The single most important part of any love story is not the courting period, not the definitive honeymoon phase or the actual relationship itself, but how it all ends.
It is how a relationship ends that determines your next and subsequent relationships and of course, the rest of your life. Without it, the person carries this into the next relationship, complicating that in the process with adequate speculation on “was this a rebound thing?” or “was it a transitional fling?” or “how can you still love someone when you are not over the other?”
So, before you get into another relationship: Lay the ghosts to rest.
To draw a parallel with death, we bury the dead, have a mourning period, get it all out and then have a 13th day function (or whatever applicable according to your faith) and then you continue to live, remembering the person once in a while, cherishing the good things and forgetting the bad because the bad does not matter any more. The person is dead.
That is exactly what we need to do during closure in a relationship.
First, does not matter whose fault it was. Forgive and forget. Or if it was your fault, apologise and forget. Forget the bad things because they don’t matter in a relationship that is dead.
To look at it objectively, look back at your whole love story like it were a movie. There were the good scenes, how you met each other, how you fell in love, things you did that built the love (storing each others messages, gifts, letters or things you promised you wont do or will do, just for that one person… a friend had vowed he would eat watermelon only with the girl he loved because it was their special bonding thing) and also the way it ended. The way it ended was just the climax… which means you had 7 good scenes and 3 bad scenes or five good scenes and five bad. Which means you still had a fairly good relationship but for the way it ended.
If there were 9 bad scenes and 1 good scene, you must have been an idiot to be in it. Just be glad it is over.
We’re talking about long strong intense relationships where two people loved each other so madly once upon a time that they couldn’t see themselves without the other.
So closure is difficult but not impossible if you did truly love the person and it wasn’t your fault at all. It is also difficult when you do realise it was your fault but it cannot be repaired. So how do you go about it?
First, post mortem. Separate the good things from the bad things. Think of it as the baggage you have to carry for the rest of your journey. Remove the heavy parts of the baggage which you cannot share with your next companion. Discard them, throw it away.
For which, you need to resolve the incomplete questions: Why did it happen to me? or Why did I mess it up? or Does moving on mean I didn’t truly love him/her?
To resolve these questions, you could meet up with each other, remind him/her about the good things, thank him/her for it, do not bring up the bad and agree on one thing: That it was good till it lasted. And now it was time to move on. Agree to be friends who will smile at each other when you do bump in to each other.
If the person has caused you so much hurt that you cannot possibly meet them face to face. Email it to them. Get it out of your system. But make sure you find three good things to say before you think of one bad thing.
If you cannot, like I said before: You were the idiot to be in the relationship. Now live with it. If you think you wasted 3 years of your life, don’t make it four or five. Or even 3 years 1 day. Stop now. Because, sometimes all it really takes is one moment to take that call. To turn the corner.
But the most effective way for closure lies within you. Forgive. Unconditionally. Because, it does not matter whose fault it was. Death is death, heart attack or kidney failure or murder or suicide does not matter. The fact is you have to live without the other. You might meet each other someday and the ghosts would come back if not exorcised.
So perform the final rites. Delete the messages that weigh you down and remind you about the great tragedy. Take the gifts out of the cupboard and keep them out with your other stuff. Eat that watermelon on Chocolate Vertigo you promised you wont eat without the other. And do this slowly and steadily, take your time. There is a good enough reason why there’s a feast at the end of 13 days after a funeral.
After which, date people with an open mind.
Forget the scars of the previous relationship. If you do keep talking about the scars, you stand a good chance to sratch them or open them up while discussing those scars. No person you date will appreciate you talking so much about the previous relationship. It could either ruin your current relationship or worse, make your date support the other and argue with you on who was right and who was wrong. Forgetting is possible only if you forgive.
A friend of mine freaked me out recently sending me a 19K mail on who was right and who was wrong, nearly two years since we broke up. While I’m glad she’s getting her closure, I don’t find it even remotely interesting to read that email because it was so long ago that it does not matter. I forgave her ages ago and replying to it now only reminds me of a scar I had forgotten long ago. May God bless her and every person who is still recovering from their previous relationship.
May they lose their excess baggage, travel light, have a fun journey ahead. And may they have the wisdom to realise that the key to closure lies in forgiving. Unconditionally. Just like the key to relationship lies in giving. Unconditionally.