On, “Closure.”

-The reality is that you will grieve forever.You will not “get over” the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.  -Elizabeth Kübler-Ross.

I suppose there is no one more qualified to make that statement than Dr. Kübler-Ross. Too, It’s exactly how I feel and felt this last year. I’ve read that after one year of mourning, it’s time to begin to fully embrace the idea of healing and the notion of “closure.” To let the past, be the past and move on. Life, after all, is for the living. Sorry, but I won’t, can’t go there.

Today is June 27 in Beijing. This is the one year anniversary of Ellen’s Memorial held at Fernwood Cemetery in Mill Valley. It’s June 26th in America and that would have been Ellen’s 71st birthday. So this is the obvious time to write this. As anyone who read my grievous postings from May, on the one year anniversary of that most dreadful day in my (and many others) life, I am inclined to pick at the open wound, not wanting it to heal over.

I am not the same, I won’t ever be the same, nor do I want to be the same. That would suggest a return to normalcy and that just doesn’t seem right. It would mean, to me, that I’ve been able to “move on” with my life. To obtain “closure.” I don’t want closure. Even if I were somehow “entitled” to it, I don’t seek it. Ellen is and always will be a significant part of my life. To close that chapter would be to somehow, package her up and put her on the shelf marked “gone, but not forgotten.”  As long as I embrace her memory, and the profound impact she had on my life, she is, in some sense, still alive. As long as the tears well up in my eyes everytime I think of her, she is still close to me.

Perhaps the bitterest pill of all is that I have a great life right now. I couldn’t be happier with the decision I made a year ago to move away, start over, in a new country and rebuild my life, basically, from the ground up. Everyday, when I walk out the door and take the short, ten minute walk to work, I am still awestruck by the fact that “I live in China!” I feel so at home and everything just feels “right.” So, why is this a bitter pill? Because- I hate to mix my metaphors- the other side of that coin, is Ellen’s death. In a perverse way, my current happiness is built on the death of my partner and yes, that IS the bitterest pill of all to swallow.

I can only say that I would gladly, happily trade all of this to have her back but that’s impossible and therefore, the only thing I can do is talk about her, think about her, pretend to have conversations with her and otherwise never, ever forget what she means to me. And for that reason, I cannot, will not, must not have closure.

As noted previously, I still haven’t seen the Memorial video. Here’s a link to it on You Tube, Ellen Memorial for those who do want to see it. At some point, I will. Maybe if and when the memories start to fade, that would be the time. Just not now.

I’ll leave you with one other quote. This, from someone who I would never have thought to quote, especially on such a sad topic. But being Jewish means having Yiddishkeit so it makes sense that I would turn to “Larry, fucking, David” (as Susie Greene liked to call him) to put the “period” on this missive: “I’m not interested in closure. Some people just have heart attacks and die, right? There’s no closure.”

2 thoughts on “On, “Closure.”

  1. Hi Brian. I picked a sad day to tap back into your blog. I’m saddened to see that time has not lessened the pain of your loss, perhaps because you do not seek closure. Elizabeth Ross says you will be whole again, but never quite the same.The dear loved ones in my life, who are now gone, took a piece of my heart with them, but in time, as I healed, each time my heart grew to be whole again. This allowed me to get on with my life and live it to the fullest, which those who passed would want us to do. We do not forget, but we have to move forward. I viewed your eulogy for Ellen for the first time tonight. Now I know why you went to China. It was for her as much as for you. And in honor of her memory, you followed through. Ellen is looking down at you Brian, and smiling at you in China.

  2. It seems to me, Brian, that you are remembering Ellen — honoring her memory and keeping her alive for yourself — with your very actions. By the fact that you can write how comfortable you feel in your new life in China (no less!) and that you aren’t holed up in your bedroom in a fetal position shows to me that you are, as Kubler-Ross said, becoming “whole again” but not in the same way as before. You are “rebuilding around the loss you suffered,” not packaging up your time with Ellen and putting it on the shelf. I urge you not to get hung up on the term “closure.” As someone who has experienced the death of three family members in six years and considers myself (sadly) well-versed in grief and mourning, I believe that acceptance is a more accurate description of how you process your feelings after the death of a loved one. I know that you keep Ellen alive in you (as I do with my parents and sister); they appear in my dreams periodically; I see them reflected in my children; and I yearn for their solace and advice when I’m depressed. I’m sure that resonates with you. What I took away from this posting is that you are very sad and miss Ellen a lot; that you will always remember her; and that you are moving on. I can certainly understand and empathize with all of those feelings.
    I look forward to talking with you soon. Take care. And BTW, if you do indeed talk with Ellen still, I don’t think you are out of the ordinary at all; my mother did that after my father’s death.

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