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  • Karl Walker-Finch

Closing the book



The Examined Life by Stephen Grosz (available here) gives fascinating insight into the career of a psychoanalyst. There are many lessons to learn in this relatively short compendium of 30 patient cases, some of which are intriguing for the sheer complexity of how our mind works, others for the stark parallels I can draw between my own feelings and those Mr Grosz illuminates in his patients.

Towards the end of the book, he discusses closure, the idea that you can achieve an definite end point to your grief. Grief can be for the loss of anything, a loved one, a not so loved one, an object, a relationship and on and on the list goes.

Closure is a myth. Grief is not a book that you will one day finish reading and shove to the back of the shelf. As the author reminds us, birthdays, anniversaries and celebrations can often be the hardest times, even for those who are not stricken with grief on a daily basis, these occasions have a way of bringing emotion to the fore again.

We cannot simply finish the book, replace it on the shelf and move on. And nor should we. Our lives are shaped by our experiences and our mistakes, the people we love and the people and things we’ve lost.

My losses have shaped who I am and whilst they will always be with me, I can shape my life going forward through the lessons I’ve learned rather than letting these losses dictate my life.

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