La Petite Mortisode No. 20 - Understanding vs. Closure

Closure vs. Understanding…..what are you seeking? In my work as a death companion and in my work as a thanatologist, I see how people handle and process loss. Even myself. Do you tend to seek closure, or understanding? In this Mortisode, learn the difference.


If you’re new here Life, Death & Tarot is a thanatology-adjacent podcast offering alternating episode formats. This episode is a La Petite Mortisode which means I talk to you about thanatology-related subjects. Our next episode will feature an interview via a 3 card tarot reading. Tarot is not magical, they are just cards featuring 78 themes often found in a human life. We use tarot cards to help us see within ourselves more clearly, to challenge ourselves to be better people and to find broader themes in our lives. We have listeners from all over the world and all of us have one thing in common: we want to live a brighter life. 


In my work as a death companion—which is someone who is compensated to provide non-judgemental, non-medical support to others as they navigate a loss—I hear a lot of talk about closure. 

Closure means resolution, or something coming to an end. Getting wrapped up. When people navigate a loss of any kind, whether it’s a Shadowloss (a loss in life) or a Big Death (a loss of life), society kind of conditions us to search for closure. 

Sometimes, I see people seeking closure for something that may never be closed. Or something that may be open for months and months, or even years and years. 

Let’s take divorce. Most people who have navigated the process of divorce found that years later, things are still getting resolved. I’ve heard people say that marriage is something that will always be open, even after a divorce, and even after death, at least to some degree. 

Or let me use myself as an example here. I experienced an assault in 2014, pressed charges, and then was viciously harassed for the next 18 months or so in an effort to get me to back down. It’s now 2019, and many of the people involved with that have died or completely left the area. Let me tell you what, that is not closed. I will probably never fully feel a sense of closure because, years later, I am still learning things about what happened to me and my husband, and still discovering how exactly that changed me as a person. I have let go of the search for closure, and instead seek understanding. 

Understanding is facts. It’s reality. It’s what happened from my perspective, what happened according to other people involved. Understanding means you are asking “what can I learn.” Seeking closure means you might be asking ‘where is the ending’.

In my work over the years with folks who have had losses of all kinds, I’ve seen how sometimes the search for closure can distract people from healing. If you are seeking closure—seeking this sense of resolution, of a true end—how are you growing? 

This idea of closure vs. understanding goes back to something I often bring up, that death is a great teacher, and great teachers are not always warm and loving. Truly great teachers challeng the heck out of you, make you stretch yourself. Great teachers help you gain understanding, they don’t provide closure. 

In high school, I was on the Newspaper for several years. Cheralyn Jardine was my journalism teacher, and to this day, I am still learning from her. She was a great teacher. She challenged me. And, I am still gaining new understanding from the lessons she taught me all these years later. I have no closure, and closure is not something I need there. Journalism and for that matter, writing, was something that was opened up when I was young and to this day, I’m still doing it. I share this because Sometimes we seek closure for things that maybe don’t need to be closed up. And sometimes, when we actively seek more understanding, we can end up with a net positive……like in this case, I have years of additional learning and growth. 

So if you are listening and are navigating some kind of loss in life, or even a major transition or change, I want to encourage you to think about this. Are you seeking closure or understanding? Are you seeking to just wrap it up and put it away? Or are you trying to see what else you might be able to learn? If you think about a Shadowloss you’ve had in life, one that you feel you have recovered from or moved forward from, did you recover or move on because you found closure? Or did you find understanding? 

In the immediacy of my assault and the subsequent harassment that came afterwards, I often thought about closure becuase I had friends say things to me like “you just need to find closure”. I felt, and still feel, that that assault and everything that came with it ripped a 4’ long tear across my body. While that huge tear might have been sewn up, the scar is still there. Getting sewn up is a type of closure, but it still hurts. This is where understanding comes in. You can look at a scar and see why it’s still tender. You can see the reactions on people’s faces when they see your wound, and you can understand that that person got hurt at some point. But closure? Most significant losses will be open, not closed, your entire life. And this is one of the things that makes being human difficult and joyful. You never know what you will be dealt in life, but you get to choose how to treat the highs and lows. Will you seek to close it all out? Or will you seek to understand? The choice is yours. 


If this podcast isn’t enough, each month, I release a tarot card that I illustrate myself, I provide a downloadable PDF with information about that card, and I share the symbol of the month, plant of the month and number of the month in our Facebook group.

Each month has an overall theme attached to it, always connected in some way to Thanatology. 

Join me each month as we explore new concepts and learn about tarot, one card at a time. 

October’s Tarot Card is the Death Card! And the monthly webinar is Sunday, October 13 at 2pm Eastern via Zoom. The webinar cost is $18. Patreon supporters at some levels get the webinars included with their support, in addition to the other perks. October’s webinar will discuss death vs. Dying, death anxiety and the death card. 


Thank you for listening, for being a Patreon supporter, for shopping my supportive merchandise, for sharing my articles, for attending my talks and for caring about death, dying, loss, grief and bereavement <3