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How to get closure

How to get closure

Many of my clients feel stuck because they don’t have closure. They can’t move on. They can’t be present in new relationships. They dwell and wish they could go back in time and make different choices. They hold on to what was with two hands and by doing so, they are not able to move on with their lives.

I ask them what they need to get closure and it’s always something from their ex. An apology. An explanation. Ownership. Things they have no control over.

So they wait and want. And most of the time, never get. So things are never closed and they don’t allow themselves to move on. This keeps them stuck. Angry. Resentful. But more importantly, not present, which means they are loving with their past and not giving their new relationship a fair shot.

Here’s the truth. Closure doesn’t involve anyone else but you.

After my divorce, I didn’t feel like I had closure. I needed an explanation. I needed answers. I needed her to understand. I needed to apologize. I needed her to apologize. I needed her to not hate me. All things that never came. And because of this, I felt stuck. I felt like I couldn’t move on. It consumed me. I thought about it constantly.

Nearly a decade later, I finally got an in-person meeting with her. Something I’ve always wanted. I thought, “Now I can finally get closure.” Not quite.

We didn’t talk about the past. At all. All the things I wanted to get off my chest so I can have “closure” stayed locked inside. The conversation just didn’t go that way. I felt like she had two hands on the conversation wheel and just decided to ride shotgun. I didn’t want to make things worse.

So it turned into a casual hang, like when you meet up with an old friend you drifted from and ask how their parents are doing. Lots of small talk. Forgettable things. All I remember was telling her I had to put my “hair away” — I was rocking a man bun at the time. Then coming back from the restroom, grilling some Korean barbeque, taking a sake shot, and exchanging a platonic, heartfelt I’ll never see you again so have a nice life hug.

A week later, I wanted another meeting. She drew a hard line. We exchanged some emails and I learned that she still had a lot of feelings about what happened. I don’t think things were closed for her either. I don’t know. But I respected her boundary.

We haven’t talked since. And probably never will.

So how do I find closure?

This is about the point when people book a session with me and ask me that exact same question.

Here’s the answer and something I must remind myself of as well.

Closure is an inner-self journey. It doesn’t require the other person. It requires you to find peace on your own. And the way you do that is on you. It’s not contingent on someone else giving you something. And like any journey, it’s not a straight line. It’s wild and messy. Up and down and sideways and not a one-size-fits-all.

First, you have to reframe. You are not “closing” something. Because the truth is, things may never be closed. The word closed feels very cut and dry, black and white. But nothing about relationships, including expired ones, are that binary. They are multilayered and complicated. There are a lot of gray and feelings that may not make sense. You may think you have healed and moved on and out of nowhere feelings come back up. That’s just how we are as humans. It doesn’t mean you’re going to go back to your ex but feelings and memories are never really “closed.” They come and go like the tide. But eventually, fewer new feelings and memories are created.

So instead of desperately trying to put everything into a box and closing it , tell yourself you need to heal.

Wanting to heal is very different than wanting to close. Healing brings it back to you. Closing seeks something from someone else. Healing takes the pressure off and allows patience with the self.

Okay, so how do you heal?

1. Healthy boundaries.

If you keep peeling scabs, the wound will never heal. No check-ins and coffee dates with the hope of a second round. No FaceTime, no texts, no drive-bys, and no more following on social media. Healthy boundaries means cutting the cord. Completely.

Okay, now that I said that. I also want to say every situation is different. If you have both been drifting for a long time and breaking up just made it official on paper, maybe you guys can hang once in a while. Maybe you can check-in and follow each other on social. Maybe you won’t sink into yesterday and what happened. Maybe there is peace. Well, if that’s the case, you guys already have some form of closure. So you have to decide what healthy boundaries look like.

Or what if you guys are raising a child together? There may not be coffee dates but you have to engage with each other. There’s no way around that. Sure, but boundaries are still imperative. You have to decide, what is healthy for you? Not what you want. Or what he wants. What’s the most healthy for all of you guys, including your child?

Healthy boundaries also include mental and emotional ones. Not just physical. Stop thinking about him and what happened. Stop playing back movie trailer best-of moments that trigger more and more emotion every time you play them back. Stop dwelling on things and what could have been. This is the harder boundary to draw. Because we’re in our heads constantly. It’s not just a decision. Drowning in our thoughts is a virus with a daily outbreak.

2. Get a life.

You may already have one. But chances are that life revolved around your relationship. It’s time to put all your energy back into you. “What does that even look like?” you may be asking, since many of us haven’t done that in a very long time. Or ever.

Well, it’s time to ask yourself what that looks like. But more importantly, what action steps are you going to put behind building a better life? Otherwise, you’ll just be thinking about it. Get out of your head and go get a life. Do everything you’ve wanted to do but didn’t have time for. Or were afraid to. Write a book. Learn to paint. Dance again. Start a business. Go somewhere alone. Fail at something.

Remember, the more you work on your life, the more you’ll bring to the table in your next relationship. If you don’t, your inability to create a meaningful life for yourself will be what ruins it.

3. Love back bigger.

This doesn’t mean to initiate round two. This doesn’t mean to engage again. By bigger, I mean love beyond everything that has happened. Love beyond what he did to you. Beyond your ego, your pain, and your anger. Why? It will help you let go, heal, and move on. If you can see him as a person, struggling and going through his own journey like everyone else, that he is just human, and like every human, does things that don’t make sense, and that he has a story like you do, it will be easier for you to accept. To no longer blame. Hold. Hate. Or want.

4. Repeat.

Because healing isn’t a one-time thing. It takes time. The repetition of all of the above plus time is what will get you to heal your heart and move on with your life.

Be patient with yourself. Know that it’s a process. And maybe one day, when you’ve gone on your rebirth journey and have built an amazing life, one that you’re proud of because you worked your ass off for it and became a different person on the way, you will look back and see how the break up was the catalyst for it all.

Candis McDow is from Atlanta, GA, and has been a mental health advocate since 2014. She has lived experience and charges to bring awareness to the oblivious and provide hope to peers.

Dr. Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD, is a licensed clinical psychologist and a professor at Yeshiva University’s clinical psychology doctoral program.

Catherine Falls Commercial / Getty Images

Closure is something people seek at the finality of something. For example, people seek closure after a romantic relationship ends; however, this is not the only kind of closure that people desire. For instance, after a parent dies, their children might need some form of closure to deal with their grief. In other cases, you might need closure after ending a toxic relationship with a friend or family member.

When in search of closure, the main goal is to get answers to unresolved matters; but is it worth the hassle, or is it better to leave things as they are and move on?

This article aims to answer these questions and discuss why closure might keep you from healing, what happens when you seek closure, and how to get closure.

Closure Can Prevent Your Healing

ICF Certified Life & Relationship Coach Rachel Kuhlen of Realize You Coaching says that seeking closure from someone can be a trap for the following reasons:

  • Seeking closure can become a crutch that keeps you from doing the actual work of moving forward.
  • You are asking someone who was not forthright with you in the first place to tell you what happened (if they had been, you wouldn't need closure).
  • There are no guarantees the other person will be honest with you.
  • The amount of closure you receive might feel unsatisfying, so you might question whether you received enough.

This perspective questions the intention behind needing closure. After you've heard the other person's side, what happens afterward? If they don't say what you need to hear or you find it hard to accept, what's next? Searching for closure might be an excuse to hold on to something that no longer serves you.

When something is lost or taken away, healing should be your main priority. But, first, you have to accept what once was is no longer present and work through those emotions.

Closure Could Be a Trigger

In mental health terms, a trigger is some event, thought, or person that affects your emotional state, often significantly, by causing extreme distress.

According to Kuhlen, your attempt at getting closure may amplify already existing insecurities or create new insecurities.

For example, if your partner no longer wants to be in a relationship with you, you might be tempted to ask the other person why they no longer wish to continue the relationship. Doing this is an attempt at getting closure. While you might want to know why things are ending, finding out this information could be triggering.

In many instances, you will never be 100% certain if the other person is honest with you, and you might question what they've told you.

Below are some examples of what your former partner might say to you versus what you think they mean:

We all know that it’s important to get closure after a breakup. But what does that even really mean?

Most of us haven’t had terrific models for healthy relationships, let alone healthy breakups. So how can we know what to do post breakup in order to move forward in a healthy way?

How to get closure

What Is Closure?

Closure is such a popular word. We all know it. Most of us say it. But what is closure?

The idea of closure in psychology might not be as old as you might think. Social psychologist Arie Kruglanski created the term “need for closure” in the 1990s.

This gave a name to a psychological need that people have – although we all have it to varying degrees. What Kruglanski referred to was this impulse our human brains have to make sense out of a situation.

We go through a process of mentally rehearsing all of the things that happened leading up to an event, such as a breakup. The feeling that we are more or less satisfied with our understanding of what happened … well, that’s closure.

How to get closure

Why Closure After a Breakup is So Important

Breakups cause us pain. They hurt. It’s tempting to just try to push through the hurt and get to the other side. However, doing so is a mistake. We need to process those feelings in order to move forward in a healthy way.

Our brains need resolution. We need to puzzle through the many things that happened in a relationship and how it ended up in a breakup.

In other words, our brains need to answer the question “WHY?”

Of course, you might not ever know the exact objective reason why things didn’t work out the way that you had hoped. But working through your thoughts and feelings allows you to come to a satisfying-enough conclusion. That is closure.

And yes, in case you’re wondering, you need closure after a breakup even if you’re the one who initiated the end of the relationship.

Closure is important after a breakup because:

  • Your brain needs an authentic narrative to make sense of what happened.
  • Without closure you might keep going back to a relationship that wasn’t working.
  • You could be doomed to repeat the same relationship patterns the next time around without closure.
  • Getting closure allows you to be your best self – and a better future partner in a healthier relationship when the time for that is right.

Why Staying Friends is a Bad Idea

Staying friends with someone you loved sounds like a wonderful idea. In fact, if you were friends before you started dating, it might seem obvious that it would be nice to go back to being “just friends.” But that’s not how relationships work. You can’t just suddenly shift modes like that and be okay.

Can you be friends with this person someday? Sure, maybe, if enough time has passed and you both feel like it’s the right, healthy thing for you. But it can’t happen until you’ve had a (long) break in contact. In other words, both of you need to get closure first.

Closure happens on your own. It happens by processing your feelings through journaling, talking with people who love you, or working with a therapist. (Or occasionally in a very structured conversation with your ex, usually mediated through a therapist.)

How to get closure

No Contact and No Creeping on Social Media

In today’s world, social media provides one of the biggest blocks to getting closure. At any given moment, you can pick up your phone, tap a button and there’s your ex. Immediately, the questions and confusion and feelings begin to swirl. This all interrupts the process of getting closure.

Therefore, if you want to know how to get closure after a breakup, the number one thing that you can do right now is block all contact with your ex. Don’t allow any connection through any social media channel. Put yourself on a social media break for awhile if you have to.

And put a plan in place for what you’re going to do or who you’re going to call when you get that sudden urge to stalk their social media account. Brainstorm a list of things to do instead. Go for a run, put on your favorite music, take a hot shower, write down all of the things you loved/hated about your ex, watch your favorite tv show … make a long list. Then when the urge strikes, turn to your list.

Learn to Forgive (Yourself)

You’ll go through many different feelings as you process a breakup. Anger, sadness, frustration, overwhelm, loneliness, restlessness, and fear are just a few of the things that might come up. And you might be surprised to discover that you have some forgiveness work to do.

Yes, you might need to forgive your ex for some things. But closure also means forgiving yourself.

We beat ourselves up a lot when things don’t go the way that we expected. You can probably very quickly come up with a list of things you did “wrong” in the relationship. The “what ifs” and the “if onlys” and “oh, there was that one time.”

You might also go the route of simply feeling like you’re not good enough. You’re “too much” or “not lovable” or “broken” or any number of other things that simply aren’t true but feel true in the moment. You are exactly right the way that you are for the stage that you are in your life.

And by seeking closure, you’re making the right choice to move forward with your life in a healthy way. Therefore, you’re already making yourself a better person – and partner – for the future. So, acknowledge where you might have done better then let it go. Forgive yourself.

How to get closure

Get Help When Seeking Closure

Sometimes people feel silly about having trouble after a breakup. After all, everyone goes through this right? But that doesn’t mean it’s trivial. Breakups are heartbreaking. They’re hard. And you might need some help with the healing process.

Individual therapy with a relationship expert can assist you in figuring out how to get closure after a breakup in the way that is right for you.

(And a tip: if you’re in a relationship that you think is about to end, sometimes couples counseling can provide each of you with a way to get closure through the breakup process.)

We want to help and support you during this challenging part of your journey. So, contact us today for a free therapy consultation about gaining closure after a break up.

Pam Ramsden does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Partners

University of Bradford provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation UK.

How to get closure

Imagine your partner unexpectedly changes their Facebook status from “in a relationship” to “single” and then refuses to communicate with you. This sounds awfully cruel, completely robbing you of your right to find out why you have been dumped so that you can get some closure and move on. But it is actually becoming so common that Facebook has created new tools to help people manage their Facebook profiles after a breakup and interact with former partners.

The need for closure doesn’t just apply to relationships. The death of a loved one, the loss of a job, status or a way of life are other examples of painful endings. Letting go of something that was once important can be difficult, and many people seek closure in doing so. But does it actually help? And can you really expect other people to give you closure? Let’s take a look at the evidence.

The social psychologist Arie Kruglanski coined the phrase “need for closure” in the 1990s, referring to a framework for decision making that aims to find an answer on a given topic that will alleviate confusion and ambiguity.

When we seek closure we are looking for answers as to the cause of a certain loss in order to resolve the painful feelings it has created. In doing this, we appear to form a mental puzzle of what’s happened – examining each piece and its relationship to the overall puzzle. Closure is achieved when we are satisfied that the puzzle has been assembled to our satisfaction, that the answers have been reached and it is therefore possible to move on.

When people most need closure it is usually because the termination of the event is significant to them, holding particular value and meaning. Let’s take a breakup as an example. If you find that the explanation is that your partner is choosing to end the relationship to begin another, you may find closure straight away without further explanation. However in the world of social media, where people are often “ghosted” – where someone simply disappears from contact without any explanation – feelings are left unresolved.

Ultimately, having answers about past endings can help us maintain our identity and learn something about the behaviour of ourselves and others. This is partly the reason why we often feel like we are better at picking partners with age. Similarly, many elderly people take a more relaxed view about death than younger people – they have often lost several loved ones and have had to find closure in doing so.

Individual differences

The need for closure exists on a scale – with some more prone to seek it than others. Some people even have a desire to avoid closure at all cost. This could be because they don’t want to end up feeling guilty, rejected or criticised by others. Vagueness has its advantages, as soon as you have established exactly what happened, you are also subject to criticism – from yourself and others.

But even among people with a similar need for closure, what may be a satisfactory answer to one person will not be sufficient for another. Every person’s need for closure is different and appears to vary as a function of the situation as well as personality characteristics and values. When we are under stress for example, our need for closure increases.

How to get closure

Research indicates that certain types of personalities are different in the ways they approach closure. One study found that people who prefer order and predictability – having a more rigid way of thinking and a low tolerance for ambiguity – struggle when they are unable to find the answers to help them move on. In contrast, people who are more open minded, creative and comfortable with ambiguity are better able to cope with not achieving closure.

Psychologists have also found that people who are consistently able to find closure usually have value systems that can easily incorporate answers to validate their world view. A religious ideology, for example, explains many questions as “God’s will”, with no further explanation necessary.

Individual differences in the need and ability to achieve closure can also play a crucial role in the potentially detrimental effects of not obtaining closure. This includes psychological distress, such as feelings of anxiety and depression, with individuals questioning themselves – in particular their judgements, skills and abilities.

What to do

So what are you to do if someone ghosts you? It is important to remember that you are in charge of obtaining closure – you can’t really get others to do it for you. Even if you get an ex-partner to talk about what went wrong in the relationship, there’s no way of really knowing that they are being honest or correct in their assessment.

A good starting point is therefore to take responsibility for your own actions and interpret those of others as best you can. If someone doesn’t want to communicate with you, that says something too. You also have to accept that you may never have the perfect answer. But you can nevertheless give yourself some time to be sad, try to figure out what happened and finally learn and move on. Research has also shown that a type of writing that allows people to examine their loss through a redemptive lens without blame and which focuses on the positives can be useful useful in helping achieve closure, whereas simply writing and searching for meaning has been found to be ineffective.

Ultimately, closure is a complicated cognitive process and the key is learning to live with the ambiguity when it cannot be achieved. Sometimes, things go wrong and although it does not feel fair, and it is very hurtful, life goes on.

Last year, after ending a long term relationship, I found myself being ignored and receiving too much attention, all at the same time. It was a few months post-breakup and I went on a date with a guy I had been texting for a few weeks. After the date, I never heard from him again. We had a fine time—he wasn’t a soul mate—but I felt rejected and found myself desperately wanting an explanation for his behavior.

Then my ex started reaching out to me again under the guise of moving on. I recognized the same behavior from my ex in myself—we both wanted to be comforted by the person who’d hurt us. We wanted closure.

I realized then that people often desire to “tie up loose ends at the end of relationships,” though I’m not sure life works that way. Closure sounds like an appealing fix to all of life’s messy problems, yet it may be the very thing holding us back from true peace. It’s a question worth exploring: When is closure helpful, and when is it hurtful?

Accept That the Relationship Is Over

It’s common to desire to reach out and find some sort of neat ending to complicated situations, especially when we didn’t choose for a relationship to end. But the truth is, we’re not actually searching for closure; we’re searching for answers. And we want an opportunity to change the outcome of the situation.

We want to talk to that person again in hopes that they’ll change their mind. Endings hurt and can bring up feelings of shame and insecurity. Sometimes, though, these feelings are par for the course when it comes to love and, well, life. It’s up to us to choose how to move forward. It’s vital to remember that we can decide how much we let others’ actions affect us.

In a conversation with my therapist, I asked her why I let this guy who ghosted me make me feel small, and she replied that he didn’t. At first, I was incensed, thinking she was implying that he didn’t do anything wrong. She went on to explain, however, that I decided I felt small, and I decided it was because of his actions rather than my reaction to them.

Recognizing that we have the power to make things mean or not mean something doesn’t instantly take away the pain of being cast aside; it simply adds to a practice of shame resilience. Brené Brown explains this as the “ability to recognize shame when we experience it and move through it in a constructive way that allows us to maintain our authenticity and grow from our experiences.” Actively looking to others for closure only prolongs the healing process. We have to find it within ourselves.

Release Your Need for Answers

You may be arguing with me through the computer or phone screen right now about how some situations really do require a resolution. Trust me; I get it. Some situations are left unclear, and answers help us to understand how to move forward. Clarifying conversations can help us know what to improve upon or how to alter our course. However, we don’t have control over how those conversations go or whether we can have them at all.

When it comes to estranged relationships or mourning the loss of a loved one, for example, closure can only be found with time. I felt this deeply at my grandpa’s memorial service several years ago. I loved him very much, but I wasn’t close to him. His death left me confused, while his memorial service—full of tears, laughter, and love—brought me relief. He was an imperfect and complex human, just like the rest of us, so my complicated feelings about him were just fine. That felt like closure, but only because I wasn’t trying to manufacture it. I had already accepted that grief isn’t linear and that my nuanced emotions are okay; the memorial simply solidified that.

Real closure doesn’t come when we force it, but when we allow ourselves to let go. We can’t white knuckle our way to acceptance. Sometimes, when we have vulnerable conversations with those who have hurt us, it provides us a release. Other times, it confirms that we must learn to release on our own.

Move Forward in Life

No one else is in charge of our happiness, no matter how much we wish they could be. But that doesn’t mean we can’t lean on trusted individuals to help us process our feelings. Reach out to a loved one, or a licensed therapist if you can, to help you unpack the situation with healthy dialogue and practices. Maybe the situation you’re in is particularly difficult, and you need consistent support from others—don’t be afraid to ask for help!

If you’re not ready to reach out, try journaling about your feelings. No judgment from the page; simply let it out! Whatever you do, remember to practice self-care and gratitude because the future is undoubtedly bright, even if today isn’t. You’ve got the power.

How are you learning to find closure in relationships—or in other areas of your life? Feel free to share in the comments.

How to get closure

How do you find closure when the other person has cut you out of their life? Ugh, this is a hard one to swallow because it truly hurts so deep. I know from personal experience—if you read my essay on how I turned a shitty ending into a positive, then you already know it’s doable. Not going to lie, it takes a lot of self-work and finding ways to cope for yourself.

When a relationship ends, no matter if it’s a romantic or platonic friendship, it shakes you. In some ways, it can feel like a death, where you’re searching for ways to mourn and move on. This is especially true when the other person in the situation has decided to stop all further conversation, leaving you on the other side of things to clean up the mental damage on your own. You feel deserted, alone, heartbroken, and reaching for answers to figure how TF you’re going to mend things again on your own.

OK, enough of how much the situation sucks and more about how to move forward and grow from it.

First things first, allow yourself a decent amount of cry sessions. The ugly cry ones, because nothing feels better than letting out a solid rainfall of tears. Get it out, because they will come eventually.

The next one is probably the hardest, but once you internalize it, it’ll be so much easier to move forward. Come to terms with the fact that you’re not going to get the closure you hope for. No more saying, “Well, maybe XX person will come around and want to talk and at least end on good terms.” Nope. Not going to happen. And that’s OK; you’re strong enough to heal on your own. I can’t stress this step enough—know that you’re not going to get the closure talk you may have envisioned in your mind. Harsh, I know, but once you’re OK with this, things get so much better.

Don’t let this situation or breakup define who you are. Let it be part of your past, not “future” you.

Speaking of future you, use the power of future journaling and write down how you plan to feel in six months as if it’s already true. For example, “I’m content and happy with my life and OK with how things ended, and my life is better than it was before.”

Try to keep a positive attitude, because honestly, what’s your other choice … to be miserable? Well, that sounds miserable. Just remember, fuming feelings do pass and seasons come and go. (Ya, throw that quote on a Home Goods painting, please. LOL.)

How have you found closure on your own? Share your story with us in our private Facebook group.

How to get closure

Getting closure after divorce will almost inevitably take longer than expected, but there are steps you can take that will get you a little closer.

Below, experts share their best advice for moving on.

1. Recognize that there’s no time table for moving on.

There is no “right” time for closure. If you try to rush the process, you may end up short-changing yourself, said Triffany Hammond, a life coach based in the greater Denver area.

“Healing happens in layers, which means there’s no deadline by which you ‘should have’ healed,” she told HuffPost. “Go easy on yourself; piling on guilt and self-loathing slows down the healing process, making it harder to put your divorce behind you.”

2. Give yourself permission to feel sad.

It’s important to cycle through all of your emotions: sadness, disappointment, guilt, total rage — but only up to a point. The goal should be to process and release those emotions, not dwell on them in an unhealthy way, said Chelli Pumphrey, a counselor based in Denver, Colorado.

“Cry. Get angry. Feel the loneliness,” she said. “Be present with your pain so that you can eventually release it. Ignoring emotion gives fuel to your pain and deepens the wounds over time.”

3. Forgive your ex.

Extend forgiveness to your ex not for their sake, but for your own.

“You probably need to forgive your partner for not living up to who you wanted them to be, among other indiscretions,” said Alicia H. Clark, a psychologist based in Washington, D.C. “What’s even more difficult is forgiving yourself for your mistakes. Self-forgiveness helps you get to the bottom of why your relationship failed and prepares you for your next relationship.”

4. Accept that you may never get an apology from your ex.

On the other hand, you may never receive the apologize you need from your ex, said Vikki Stark, a psychotherapist and the director of the Sedona Counselling Center of Montreal.

“Many people get stuck psychologically longing for an indication that their ex recognizes the pain they caused,” she said. “You may need to accept that your ex has moved on and will never make that acknowledgement.”

5. If you have children, envision your future relationship with them.

If you have kids, tell yourself you’re picking up the pieces and coming out stronger post-split to be a better parent to them. To start, ask yourself a simple question: When my kids look at me, do they see someone who can’t put their bitterness behind them or someone who’s standing strong on their own?

“If you can’t let go, you’re compromising your well-being and your children’s well-being,” said Elisabeth J. LaMotte, a psychotherapist and founder of the DC Counseling and Psychotherapy Center. “If you harp on the past and cling to a relationship that has ended, your children will pick up on it and it will cause them unnecessary stress and pain.”

6. Grieve the end of your marriage.

We have rituals and ceremonies for most big life events (funerals, weddings, baptisms) but not for divorce: Give your marriage a symbolic send-off, whether you get friends together for a lighthearted divorce party or settle on something more somber, Pumphrey suggested.

“You need to give yourself a clear message that you’re saying goodbye,” she said.

7. Ditch the marriage highlight reel.

While you don’t want to deny the memories you share as a couple, dwelling exclusively on the good times (and forgetting the negative moments) is sure to slow down the healing process, said Clark.

“Recognize these thoughts for what they are: rooted more in fantasy than reality,” she said. “Instead of fighting to accept today’s realities, embrace them along with the possibilities of a tomorrow that is now more in your control than ever before.”

8. Don’t let obsessive thoughts about divorce clutter your mind.

Sure, it’s a tall order, but try to shift your thoughts elsewhere whenever you start to replay scenes from your divorce, Stark said.

“When you hear yourself going over and over the injustices of your divorce, you need to say to yourself, loud and clear, ‘Stop it!'” Stark said. “Your focus needs to be your own life now — focus on developing that.”

9. Write your own happy ending.

Divorce is ultimately a chance to redefine who you are, Pumphrey said: You’ve been given the opportunity to write your own life narrative, a la Cheryl Strayed and her Wild journey or Elizabeth Gilbert and her Eat Pray Love trip.

“Instead of being angry at your spouse, which only leaves you feeling disempowered, try to find the silver lining in the experience of divorce and reframe your story,” she said.

Breakups are hard, that’s no secret. There are often leftover questions, resentments, and fears that are sometimes impossible to resolve. Nevertheless, it’s important to know how to create your own closure so you’re not left hanging when a relationship ends. Don’t expect your ex to give you the closure you need — here are 10 ways to create it yourself:

Know that you don’t need your ex to give it to you.
Most people think that closure is something that you sort out with another person. They think it’s a gift (or a necessary thing) that a partner can hand over. In reality, no one can give you closure because it’s something that you have to decide to create on your own. It’s a journey you take apart from your former partner because no one can really give you what you’re searching for but you.

Let the grieving process unravel on its own.
How to get closure
The ending of a relationship is hard, especially if it was particularly intimate and/or long. It’s important to let all of your feelings pass through you without judging yourself or trying to suppress them. You may go through the five stages of grief or some other wild cycle. This is okay. Just let it happen and know that there is an end to your feelings.

Go totally cold turkey with contact.
How to get closure
Nothing creates closure quite like shutting the door in your mind and deciding never to contact them again. It’s really easy right after a breakup to find reasons to talk to your former lover, but if you’re working towards closing the door, it’s important to leave them alone at all costs. Delete their number and don’t respond if they reach out. It’s better this way.

Stop creeping on their social media.
How to get closure
This is one of the hardest and subtlest ways to keep yourself away from getting closure. Continuing to creep on your ex’s social media accounts does more harm than good while you’re trying to get over them. You’re only going to create stories in your head, miss them, or get angry. It’s best to go cold turkey on looking at their social media accounts – let it go right now.

Get rid of any remnants of them you have left.
How to get closure
Maybe you still have their pajama pants and you just tell yourself you have them because they’re comfy. Well, you’re still holding onto your ex by holding onto their belongings. It’s better to just clean out everything. Have a friend help you if you can’t bear to throw things out. Or, you can have a friend deliver them to your ex so you can keep contact cut off.

Pour out your feelings in a written letter but don’t send it.
How to get closure
Maybe you have a ton of feelings you want to express to your ex or yell to the world. It’s helpful to get them all down on paper. Pretend you’re going to send the letter and pour your heart out into it. Say everything that you need to say. Share your feelings, thoughts, regrets, and worries. Whatever you do, don’t send the letter. If you want, you can burn it or bury it or something equally symbolically dramatic.

Stop blaming yourself or the other person.
How to get closure
The relationship has ended, but it’s easy to continue replaying situations in your head over and over again. When blame is kicking around in your mind, it’s usually towards you or your ex. Blame isn’t helping you gain closure or really doing anything at all productive. Do your best to let it go by redirecting your thinking when it comes up or changing your thoughts.

Work towards forgiving yourself and/or your ex.
How to get closure
If you have blame and resentment swirling around in your mind, it’s definitely blocking you off from finding peace and closure. I know forgiveness is difficult, but practicing it will help you get that closure you desire. Know that forgiveness doesn’t mean that you’re making what happened okay, but it means you’re willing to let it go for your own well-being.

Accept that you may never get an apology from your ex.
How to get closure
Perhaps your ex did something awful like cheated on you or treated you really poorly. This is unfortunate, but it doesn’t have to own you. You can be trapped in your exes grips if you’re waiting for an apology. On the other hand, you could practice acceptance in knowing that there’s a good chance you’ll never ever receive an apology from your ex.

Make new memories where you shared old ones.
How to get closure
You likely have old date spots that you’re afraid to go to because you and your ex spent time there. To create your own closure, you can make new memories in these spots. It’s not going to happen overnight but say yes to opportunities to revisit date spots with friends, family, or colleagues. There may always be remnants of your ex, but you mostly get to cover them up with new experiences.

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How to get closure

We’ve been spoonfed the idea of closure since way before we started our quest for love. For me – and so many women of my generation – it started when Rachel left Ross a drunken voicemail on Friends.

She left her message using an unreasonably large mobile phone (in the middle of a restaurant, on a date with another man) and talked at length about her quest for closure when it came to their as-yet-non-existent relationship. The idea was – and still can be – to tell your former beloved “I’m over you” and slam the phone into an ice bucket with gusto, 100% sure you’ve done the right thing.

But what Rachel learnt here, and later on in the show, is the same lesson I’ve learnt and relearnt over the last 10 years of falling in and out of love. Finding closure can feel like the ultimate fairytale. It’s been pedalled into our minds by [films, books and TV shows](https://www.glamourmagazine.co.uk/topic/entertainment) as that lightbulb moment where you have all the answers you need and no longer feel hurt.

How to get closure

In real life, unfortunately, you will experience this differently. In my experience, getting over someone – or something – is frustrating, incremental and, in essence, a slog. Why is this? Why can we not have that Hollywood moment of clarity that we so dearly crave?

According to Dr Kalanit Ben-Ari, a relationship and family therapist, it’s because closure is a process, not one singular moment.

“Unresolved or surprising hurt or pain might create psychological obstacles that need to be processed, reflected on and worked through before a change in the emotional state and consciousness can happen,” she says. “Closure is a process that allows emotions to come to the surface, a process of making sense of your thoughts, feelings and experiences, and reaching a calmer and more balanced state of mind about the person and the experience.”

How to get closure

The idea of closure is often interpreted as the need for answers that only the person who has hurt you can give you – and this can be a dangerous trap to fall into.

While I’ve always been openly sceptical about the concept of closure itself when it comes to romantic relationships, I’ve participated in plenty of social exchanges in the hope that I would find some answers to the questions surrounding why each relationship didn’t work out. I’ve gone for an innocent cappuccino or two with an ex, I’ve drunk copious amounts of pints with an ex, I’ve experienced the bittersweet feeling of attending the same wedding (and funeral) as an ex.

But in the end, it didn’t matter how much time had gone by or how much my life had changed. Sometimes those questions can’t be answered by those who left you behind or, equally, those you left behind.

“We might think that answers will offer us comfort, and while at times it can, many other times it doesn't,” Ben-Ari says. “It is not therefore necessary to receive answers to our questions in order to achieve closure.”

Getting over someone – or something – is frustrating, incremental and, in essence, a slog. Why is this? Why can we not have that Hollywood moment of clarity that we so dearly crave?

Obtaining closure from, and with, the person who hurt you can work, she says, in some cases. But only when both parties are “willing to have an open and healing dialogue and what happened”. She even holds specific therapy for this stage in the process, where people can say “goodbye” to each other, or a chapter in their life, or a person who has passed away, but must be done after emotional processing.