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Senior Momentum - September 2016 - Zoë Tummillo


That Sense of Closure...

by Zoe Tummillo

If ever there was an ambiguous word it is surely “closure.” My research was interesting; and, while I expected some complexity, I was quite surprised at the immense depth and the many applications of the word. My personal take on it has always been to see it as an incomplete and often misapplied term, concerning recovery and implying a promise of forgetting.

With some matters, I believe it is simply not possible to achieve closure in the popular, emotional sense of the word. Victims seek it, those victimized by another’s misfortune seek it; indeed, communities and nations seek it. It’s as if there is some real point at which something greatly impressive can be so removed from one’s consciousness that its impacts and consequences may be considered truly closed and ended, replaced by peace! 

I think closure is a process that can lead to management that can lead to relief. Perhaps the part one really wants to close is the part that is about resistance, grief, anger and the feeling of frustration and helplessness – as in sudden violence, death and other losses. I have yet to meet an individual who believes they have completely released or “closed” on a significant something, or who believes that it is even possible. 

Isn’t continually pursuing a definitive, elusive and desired finite end (to something gravely imprinted on one’s life and consciousness, and that cannot be changed) really a perpetuation of the power of that something? When asked directly, most said, simply and thoughtfully: Well, I just manage. 

The simple beauty of a rose, a personal shock, horrendous social violence, the physical and mental impacts upon our veterans, incredible violations on fellow humans and inevitable natural death, are all around us. All demand not that we try to close some immense door and hope to go forward with our lives as if nothing has changed – or has changed us. They demand that we cope, and that we do so loudly and effectively. 

Just as we are constantly being changed, everything around us is changed forever with each new happening. We fondly and easily reflect on all the positive memories of positive things that have touched our lives. If your family is anything like mine, we energetically debate the details! Yet, we choose to try to bury that other stuff, and close down on those things that are awful.

Most of us can think of subjects that are “taboo” at family gatherings and social gatherings. Taboo is just code for denial, insisting: “that door is closed.” Yet that “off limits” rule only proves the clarity with which all of “it” is remembered. (No closure there!)

I think we need to take hard lessons from our combat veterans, police and from all disabled among us. Their closure is about closing down on denial. Without acceptance of real circumstances, how can we move forward? How does a young man or woman back from war, and missing limbs, get into competitive athletics or into Congress? Definitely not by shutting down or trying to close it all away. 

Closure is an ambiguous concept, and I am playing with it. In the loud and ugly political arena happening as I write, one could find it easy to wish for idealistic closure on all that is bad about what is happening. Retreat into denial is so tempting. Maybe it will all go away if we deny hard enough. Our various chosen leaderships will right the ship and everything will be OK. No, it won’t.

What may be needed dearly here is openings, not closures. When my youngest son was just a little one toddling around, he liked to play hide-and-seek with his older siblings. When it was his turn to hide, he would put his hands over his eyes and say gleefully: I’m ready! 

He was about 18 months old. What’s our excuse?

Zoë Tummillo is a Business & Marketing Consultant, Trainer, Commercial Writer, dba COMMUNICATION CONCEPTS, in private practice since 1974. In addition to Commercial work, she writes “Senior Momentum: A Series of Situations”; “Pieces of My Path”©, essay memoirs of growing up first generation Italian American; and Senior Momentum: Front And Center!©. To contact her: email: