About Closure After a Suicide:
I have encountered closure spoken of in various Grief Groups (involving aged, diseased and traumatic deaths of young and old.) The word is bantered back and forth as the solution for the agonies left in the wake of a death.
If you ask folks what closure means you will get all manner of definitions. For those somewhat distant to a detailed definition, well, the implications are not that urgent. Speaking to those left behind following a suicide the word is of acute interest. The motivation in this situation is to end the agonies the survivor faces.
Personally, I have adopted a number of explanations for “closure” specific to survivors of a suicide death. This is not a reflection of suicide attempts, those encompass a unique set of circumstances.
Over this past eighteen years, I have come to see closure as an ongoing process . . . not an end state. It is unclear to me if I will ever arrive at the completed state of closure so long as I live.
This is not to cover you with a cold indifferent attitude when you are looking for a little warmth.
I want to share with you a way I have developed to work on my circumstances.
I see closure involving thoughts in my memory. This would cover my expectations and realizations stored in my closure drawer. This drawer can be closed, but it is never locked.
If you look inside my closure drawer you will find a half dozen folders organized by categories:
1. Folders containing open/unresolved issues that need to be looked into (the temporarily unknowns?).
2. Folders with all the details gathered (noting the source and date) but not concluded.
3. Folders of details on issues “in progress” (yet to be resolved,) but there exists a trail of people or places to look.
4. Folders for things I still wonder about but was afraid it would disrupt someone else’s life if I pursued them.
5. A folder for things I am satisfied there is nowhere else to go and I need to stop the search.
6. Finally my “wonderment file.” This is for things that are clear yet impossible to render suicide as a solution.
This lead to writing a Peace Letter. I personally see this as the beginning of the letting go process. Forgiveness to her and all the cascading events that involved others. Some might assess this as an end to the blame game.
There are a lot of ways I did not measure up to her expectation and I attribute them as failures on my part.
I tended this analysis process through years of struggles. This approach has ended in a state of peace. In some ways a period of acceptance that “I can never (really) know the why.” There are no further options at this point.
Work on all this leads me to my own understanding that taking one’s life follows no formula.
For most of us left behind, there were insufficient signs this was coming. It is typically a very tightly held secret our loved one maintained under wraps. One of the things I did discover by going to counseling with her was the childhood traumas she faced, yet remained hidden for almost fifty years.
Then after her death, I would discover some of her friends at church knew. So to be unaware is not a mark against your relationship but more of a developed defense mechanism of the one you have lost. Certainly, some are more accomplished at this than others. Rebecca was a masterful performer and even with years of therapy, she slipped by all her counselors.
During our last counseling session, I now realize she was telling me and the counselor (by the way, a very experienced older fellow) that the barn was burning. Then less than three weeks pass and she is gone. Just 5 days before our next counseling session.
You have to open the closure drawer to work, but you cannot leave it open permanently. You have to close it to maintain all the activities of life. It can never be sealed.
Here is where a survivor support group comes in. Once a week is an ideal routine. I suggest opening for that once a week session, work on stuff and close it for the next six days. It is not helpful to continually ruminate on all this. But healthy in the end to sort it all out and come to some personal understanding you can live with. Nothing else (or persons) matter, just yourself . . . period.
Blessings, dJ About Closure V6 – 0311.2017