How to Find Closure

We had been dating for about 4 months when he took a 2-week trip to visit family and friends in Chicago. Things seemed to be going well between us, though he had been out of work for a while and was showing signs of depression. We talked almost every day while he was gone.

Then the day he was supposed to start heading back came and…nothing. I called. I texted. No response. I had other people call him for me. Again, no response. I searched the internet for arrests, deaths, freak accidents…and found nothing. To this day, I have no idea what happened to him.

Once people reach a certain age, most everyone has experienced the sudden end of a relationship. The ending comes in many forms – an unexpected break-up, a fade-away, a sudden death. And the relationships affected can include anyone, from romantic relationships and friendships to colleagues. These experiences leave us feeling confused, wondering what we did wrong or how we could have done things differently. The not knowing makes the end of the relationship even more difficult to get over.

So, what do you do when you can’t get closure?

I have been reading a book called Grieving Mindfully by Sameet Kumar, which says it is helpful to perform a ritual to acknowledge the end of the relationship. Closure allows you to begin moving on instead of staying stuck in shock and disbelief. There are five things we need to say to facilitate closure:

  1. I’m sorry
  2. I forgive you
  3. I love you
  4. Thank you
  5. Goodbye

You don’t need to see or speak to the other person to find closure. For each step, write what you wish you could say to that person. If that person hurt you, it may be difficult to say, “I’m sorry” or “thank you.” But there are always ways we could be better in our relationships – more present, more affectionate, more active. And all of our relationships teach us something. Even if they just teach us how resilient we can be.

After writing your responses, I suggest lighting a candle and reading it aloud, as if the person was in front of you. Then you can begin the process of grieving the end of the relationship.