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5 Ways to Get Closure During a Global Pandemic
As we approach another few weeks in quarantine, a discussion that seems to be growing more common is about closure to life events, or a lack thereof, for many of us. This includes milestones like cancelled graduations and proms, taking breaks or outright leaving from jobs, and even too-soon endings to the repetitive or habitual hobbies, gatherings, and events that we all love.
It’s becoming clear that while there are efforts to delay, digitally-replicate, or compensate for many of these celebrations and life markers, many will not have the proper finales we had imagined.
If you’re like me, these finales also meant a lot because they were symbolic of a particular chapter of life, with its distinct accomplishments, lessons, and people, coming to an end. They were also a way to have a fresh start for things to come that are bigger, better, and newer than before.
But alas, where we cannot be given closure, maybe we can create it. I’ve been thinking about meaningful ways to remember, conclude, and move on from many life events post-COVID-19, and I’m here to offer some of these suggestions to you. Let’s jump right in!
1. Reach out to people from the chapter that’s “closing.”
Often, the end of a specific part of your life means that your relationships may change with certain people present for it. You may be more physically distanced, not see them as often, or the actual nature of your relationship will change. Since other people are often what make our experiences valuable, an excellent way to get closure from a part of life is to do so with the humans that shaped yours. You can write them cards or messages, talk to them about the ending you are both experiencing, or formulate plans for staying in touch in the future.
2. Do something to help YOU move on.
Rather than looking to external people and places for closure, you may want the inner peace that comes with knowing you have meaningfully tied up a chapter of your life. If this is the case, you can use more personal and reflective strategies, such as scrapbooking, creating an album or photos or videos (whether digital or on paper), displaying mementos in a space you can see them, or even journaling to yourself. Explore what feels right and valuable to you, and use your chosen medium to create something that will help you remember this time in your life.
3. Create a “highlight reel.”
Your highlight reel can take any form that makes sense to you and what you’re coming out of, but what I have in mind when I say it is simply a summary of your interests, accomplishments, highlights, or lowlights. This can be a more concrete way to remember not only a part of your past, but also how it shaped you in a particular way. Additionally, this type of memory also may be helpful if you want to have your experiences fresh in mind for a new chapter of my life.
For example, as I look at postgraduate education options, a strategy that I have been using is combing through my classes, assignments, and readings from each undergraduate year. I then make a shortlist of all of the lectures, texts, and concepts that I found interesting, challenging, or impactful. This way, I not only get to reflect on my favourite and most valuable academic experiences, but also navigate my future options based on what I have learned about myself as a student thus far.
4. Change up your daily routine.
One of the most challenging parts of moving on from any experience is usually shortly after it concludes, when you must go about life as usual — with a gaping hole where that experience used to fit in. Sometimes, an effective way to get closure can be to change up your daily routine entirely. Rather than doing the things you normally do, and leaving gaps for the parts of your day that ended post-COVID, rework your day or find ways to substitute for those things. That way, their absence won’t seem as prevalent, and you’ll have new focuses to channel your energy into.
5. Let yourself FEEL the things that you feel.
Your feelings are all always valid, and that holds especially true since we’re amid a global pandemic. Sometimes, the only way to truly feel like you’ve gotten closure is to take as much time as you need to grieve for your losses. It is normal, healthy, and part of the healing process to feel for the absence or conclusion of parts of your life that you loved — however insignificant you may think them to be. Don’t dismiss your feelings, and don’t be hard on yourself for them.
If you’re reading this article as you look for closure, I hope you found something that can help you get it. I’m sending you love and sunshine. And remember: it’s good to feel ALL the things!
Simran grew up in Markham, Ontario and is a fourth-year student at Western University.
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