Finding closure and peace of mind in the wake of a break-up

Divorce is usually one of the hardest life experiences for both the separating couple and the entire family. More often than not, one partner is more hurt or upset than the other, leading to a breakup that is anything but mutual and amicable.

After a separation, it’s hard to know what to hang on to and what to let go, especially if the divorcing couple has children. But finding closure is the only way to truly move on from an ended relationship, even if closure comes from within. And part of letting go is understanding that all of your questions may not have answers.

What is closure, exactly?

There’s no one right way to define closure, as it can look different for each and every divorce or breakup. Broadly, closure is the ability to move on from the relationship, truly accepting that it’s over.

Without closure, resentments can build and the person who can’t let go ends up giving the other person a great deal of power over their life experiences. One party could continually blame the ex-partner for his or her daily unhappiness, ceding responsibility for challenges in a life well past the end of the relationship.

It’s better to move on. Many divorcees find that closure helps to ease resentment and allows each party to accept the end of the relationship and go forward with their lives, both romantically and otherwise. This is especially important for couples with children, as sufficiently managing schedules and co-parenting tactics requires that the parents get along, even if only on a surface or “professional” level.

Those going through a divorce often confuse filing paperwork or finalizing a divorce with closure. While these steps make the separation legally final, they often don’t actually provide much-needed mental closure. In fact, there are many levels of separation that will be felt and grieved. Aside from the legalities, there are financial concerns, emotional challenges, and physical considerations.

Why does closure matter?

Because there are two parties involved in any couple separation, it’s important to understand that the two former partners may be in different stages of grieving the relationship when it actually ends. One partner could have been preparing for the separation for months, while the other could be dealing with the shock that things ended.

This is why when couples separate, it’s easy for each person to be in completely different mindsets, leading to a variety of different experiences when going through the divorce. Once some time has passed, and especially if there are children involved, the two people should aim to find closure for this reason. Eventually, the relationship may become far more positive when both former partners are closer to being on the same page than when the breakup was initiated.

Closure is especially important for children of divorced parents. Any change in a child’s life is upsetting to them, and divorce can be confusing and traumatic. The world as the child knows it is changing, even if the parents have a good relationship and the best intentions.

Closure can allow the parents to let go of any negative feelings of resentment or distrust and work together for the child’s sake. While no terminated relationship may ever be fully positive again, a cordial, functioning relationship that revolves around the child’s needs is often a situation that works well for the entire family.

Letting go of anger and resentment will also limit the amount of bad mouthing that’s done about the other parent in front of the child, which would only further confuse and upset them.

How to get closure after divorce

There are many reasons to seek closure—you owe it to yourself and your family to be able to move on. Strategies to help you find it after a divorce include:

  • Not blaming the other person for your unhappiness
  • Not expecting an apology or an epiphany from the other person
  • Seeking help from a support group, a counselor, or another mental health professional
  • Planning for the future instead of thinking about how the past could have gone differently
  • Not blaming yourself for the marriage failure

Note that many of these strategies are about you finding closure within yourself, and do not depend on the other person for confirmation. While a divorce can bring many questions about what went wrong and who’s to blame for what, in the end, some of these questions don’t have an answer. Part of letting go is accepting the things that can’t be changed or fully accounted for.

Letting go may also require taking up a new hobby or interest or journaling through feelings and emotions each day. The focus should be on why a separation is still causing you resentment and working through those feelings to eventually let them go.

One word can summarize what successful closure looks like: forgiveness. Of both yourself and your ex-partner.

The Family Plan App is a new solution to help families manage the logistics of co-parenting after divorce. Tools such as legal management and scheduling help to reduce conflict and support a successful family life after separation.