In the rush from one thing to the next we can leave things incomplete. There’s no closure. We might not finish a conversation; we might not tie up the loose ends; we might not ensure we’ve got everybody’s buy-in; we might not bring a relationship to a clear close; we not get to really say goodbye; we might not get round to saying what a person meant in our life, or hear what we meant to them; we not get to say how much we loved, or hear how much we were loved. Whether it matters or not depends on the impact it has on your life – and on others.
Yet we need closure: it is arguably a human need. People need to finish things off before they can truly move on. In Gestalt we use the term “unfinished business” for when something is incomplete and not really worked through and resolved. To feel complete enables us to let go and comfortably move on.
Yet people will take action, get a result and then move on, without closure. Action, action action. The emotional content is avoided. Thus there will be bits hanging in the air, unaddressed, ignored. Where people avoid closure, they leave early, they abruptly shut things down, they don’t have that final conversation that lets the other person have their say, to say what’s really there for them. The delivery of that last bit is avoided. Thus there’s pain at the end, rather than acceptance.
It can be painful to for people to address completion, or they may at least be afraid of it. It brings up uncomfortable associations and they’d rather not go there. There are many reasons. Let’s say for some it is past completions that have hurt, someone leaving them and thus the fear of an ending brings up memories. It might be fear of another’s reaction and not wanting to face that. It might be their own dislike of goodbyes, which might remind them of past goodbyes that were painful. For some the very thought of an ending brings up an existential pain that they aren’t aware of, haven’t talked about and don’t want to get close to. It can even get down to not making that final farewell, for all the upset they are dimly aware of inside them but don’t want to go near.
The trouble with not facing our fears is that we don’t get to discover that they are illusions. They are prisons of our own making, which with knowledge and understanding we can let go of. An ending is also another beginning, in the end is the beginning, as TS Eliot wrote. It’s where we find ourselves whole and complete. The paradox is that in the ending is, at some level also our re-integration into the whole. Maybe this is what so much of humanity is afraid of. We fear we’ll disappear. We fear the void, wherein lies bliss.