New York State Funeral Directors Association

What is Closure?

We hear people talking about "closure" as if there is a door that can be shut after experiencing a tragedy in our lives, losing a loved one or being witness to a horrific event such as the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.

Friends might ask "Haven't you reached closure yet?"

Grief cannot be forced or pushed or closed off from our minds. There is no magic formula for working through grief.

The fact of the matter is that grief must be expressed and dealt with. We all experience and react to loss in different ways depending on the relationship of the deceased to us, our past experiences with loss, and sometimes even our health and emotional state.

Grieving for a lost loved one can take years, sometimes a lifetime.

According to Curtis Rostad, a Certified Funeral Service Practitioner who has been a licensed funeral director since 1973, there is no such thing as closure.

He maintains that those who refuse to begin the journey through grief simply delay their own recovery.

Rostad goes on to explain why he thinks the concept of closure is mentioned so often in today's culture.

"It should come as little surprise that a generation of people brought up with minute rice, instant coffee and microwave ovens would search for quick relief from something we call grief."

"We hear it from those who go to the scene of a disaster where their family member has died. We hear it from those who witness the execution of the person convicted of killing their loved one.

We hear it expressed by those who have someone missing in war."

In helping families deal with grief, he has found that seeking closure only produces feelings of frustration that join the emotions of sorrow.

There is no closure, but there is a point where people have a great deal of acceptance, even peace of mind, and are able to move on to a different frame of mind - a frame of mind that leaves them supported by the memories, but empowered to continue with their lives knowing they did all they could do with respect to the person they lost.

Why would anyone seek closure? Why would anyone want to close the door on thoughts about a departed loved one? Grief will soften in the years after a loss, but the door to memories should always be open.