If we were to believe television, we should expect to get closure for all the things that have come to end in our lives. I suppose, more specifically, those things that ended unexpectedly that have left us a bit dumbfounded. However, despite everything television tells us, I’m not too sure how important it is to get closure. Despite all of the popular culture talk about closure there is not much consensus on what that entails.
One of the longstanding, well-known social psychologists in my field Arie Kruglanski came up with the need for closure phrase to highlight our need as humans to lessen ambiguity. Many don’t like gray. Many, despite season-ending episodes, don’t like cliffhangers. We can see that with the proliferation of “spoilers” websites. As a collective we want closure.
Closure is supposed to give a path towards moving onwards. Closure can represent acceptance of what has ended and a mental push towards transition away from what’s ended to looking towards that which is to come. That sounds great. That can be wonderful. It can help sew up a broken heart. It can help free up brain space.
While closure sounds wonderful, there is not always an opportunity to get closure. Sometimes closure eludes us. And sometimes closure is not all that it is promised to be. Loose ends don’t always get tied up. I recently tried to give someone closure by sending a friendly message. I got nothing in return other than a perfunctory, perfectly cordial response. They didn’t want closure. And, thus I didn’t get closure. Actually, I didn’t want closure. I just wanted to be nice. Or nice(ish). Yet, others may just not be ready to let you have peace of mind.
I’m ok with a lack of closure. More often than not I can move on. I can compartmentalize quite well. I’m very lucky that way. Considering how the world is in a tailspin at the moment, I can imagine we are in a state of being demanding information. We are in a high need for information. However, that information overload is tripping our mental health circuit breakers. Thus, we may have to allow ambiguity to seep into other areas of our lives. Need for closure is spinning on a seesaw. And, we may have to be ok with that.