Foundation, reminding you that a fully-integrated approach for assisting survivors of
traumatic loss involves a balance of head and heart.
Why those who are educated about grief never use the term “closure”
when referring to healing after a loved one dies….
Time Magazine honored Albert Einstein as the “Man of the 21st Century” due to his
enormous contribution to our understanding of physics. While most think of him as
a great scientist, he was also a remarkable humanitarian. In addition to his
contribution to our understanding of quantum physics, his theory of relativity has
provided a major source of comfort for those who grieve. His teachings that
energy cannot be created nor can it be destroyed provides hope and promise that
our loved ones’ energy never dies, even though they pass from our earthly vision.
Our personal spiritual beliefs determine where we believe the energy of our
loved ones resides once they pass from earth. However, for most people, there
is no doubt that we are always connected to those we love—and there is no
desire for “closing” off the connection that we feel. This belief (faith) is an
important part of healing and why the term “closure” is inappropriate when
speaking to one who has experienced the loss of someone dear.
Finding the probable cause of an accident, or any tragedy, contributes to healing
of all involved, but referring to this information or these answers as bringing
“closure” causes discomfort to families of the deceased. While an investigation is
eventually closed, the love for those lost in the tragedy never dies and there is,
therefore, no closure.
Those who are involved in managing an organization’s disaster response should
take steps to ensure that the term “closure” not be used in the context of survivor
grief in any written or spoken interactions with families. While the term closure
may have relevance to business dealings, years of interviews with survivors
have taught us that this term should be avoided at all costs when speaking of
Leaders might use phrases like, “The information about probable cause of the
tragedy will likely provide much needed answers to families whose loved ones
died….” or, “It is our hope that the newly discovered information about what
happened in the final moments of the tragedy will help families gain a better
understanding of what caused the disaster.”
In summary, situations involving facts may have definitive answers, and some
situations and interactions do have closure—but energy between those who share
an emotional bond is never closed off. As Einstein said, “It is a fact of physics.”
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Aviem & Family Assistance Foundation
555 North Pont Center East, Suite 400
Alpharetta, GA 30022
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