Learn why relationship closure is important – but not necessary for healing your heart. These 8 ways to heal when a relationship ends without a good-bye will help you move on after an unexpected loss or breakup.
On How to End Your Affair With a Married Man and Heal Your Heart, a reader asked how to heal when there isn’t relationship closure. Her boyfriend abruptly broke up with her after three years together, and she sees him at work every day. “I can’t get over this breakup,” she said. “I know it’s because we didn’t have relationship closure but he refused to talk to me about why he wanted to break up. How can I heal when I see him all the time, when we didn’t even say good-bye properly?” One of the most important things to remember about healthy relationship closure is that it has to involve physical and emotional distance. You can’t heal and move on if you’re still seeing your ex-boyfriend – and it’s even more difficult when you’re physically and emotionally involved with him. These tips will help you heal and find closure after a relationship ends, even if you didn’t have a formal good-bye.
Relationship closure is easier to write about than actually do. I understand how difficult and painful it is when someone just walks out without a word of explanation. It’s a terrible way to leave a relationship. And sometimes you lose someone emotionally and you’re forced to continue seeing them socially or professionally (such as a difficult breakup with a coworker you were involved with). Maybe you are parenting children together or you’re still part of the same family.
But you can heal without saying goodbye to the person you lost. Yes, it hurts. No, it won’t be easy. Yes, it will be worth it. Here’s what relationship closure is, plus suggestions for letting go of an ex-boyfriend or ex-husband.
What is Relationship Closure?
Healthy relationship closure happens when you talk about why your relationship ended– whether you’re a married wife, common-law girlfriend, estranged sister, or ostracized family member. Relationship closure involves honest, healthy, open-minded, nonjudgmental communication.
In my article about letting go of someone you love, a reader said she doesn’t feel she has closure after her relationship ended. Her fiancé of nine years wasn’t honest about why he left her. They didn’t talk about it, and so she wasn’t able to process the end of her relationship with him. This is unhealthy – especially if she doesn’t learn how to find closure on her own.
Relationship closure is important because it can teach you why your relationship didn’t work out. This can help you see yourself and your ex in healthy ways, and show you how to grow. Relationship closure also helps with letting go of someone you love. Closure can help you learn from the mistakes you made, and prepare your heart to love someone new.
Relationship closure helps you heal by setting your mind at ease about how your love relationship unfolded and why it ended. Even if you made mistakes and were part of the reason your relationship didn’t work out, closure can make you stronger by preparing you for future love relationships.
Denying someone closure when you’re breaking up is worse than unhealthy: it’s damaging and destructive. Healing comes faster and easier when you’ve had a chance to say goodbye.
Getting relationship closure is difficult because…
When you’re the one who needs or wants to let go of the relationship, you may find it easier to avoid talking about it! It’s natural for people to want to avoid pain. Relationship closure is difficult because it’s painful to talk about our problems, weaknesses and faults. Most of us aren’t taught how to manage conflict or work through problems in a relationship, and we find avoidance easier than discussion.
Relationship closure often triggers pain and grief, which is why some people find it easier to simply walk out or let go without explanation. This is what my reader’s fiancé was doing when he ended the relationship without giving her the gift of closure. He was trying to avoid causing her — and himself — pain, but he actually made things more painful in the long run.
Even if your relationship ended without a formal good-bye, you can heal your heart and move forward in your life! It’s a process that takes work, but it’s worth the effort.
8 Ways to Heal Your Heart Without Relationship Closure
Ideally, relationship closure involves two people. In reality, however, sometimes people simply walk out of our lives without looking back.
Throughout this article are resources for saying goodbye without formally ending a relationship. But, you have to realize that you’ll never learn all you need to know about healing without closure from a blog post like this. This is a summary of different ways to heal your heart, but there aren’t any easy or quick tips for emotional healing. Healing requires time and energy – but it really is worth it!
1. Write through the grieving process
Your life has changed. You have lost a relationship that meant something to you. You are grieving, and grief takes time. Part of the grieving process is learning how to let go of a relationship without talking about why it ended or how to move on in healthy ways.
One of the best ways to cope with the end of a relationship when you don’t have closure is to write. You’re grieving the end of a relationship, and writing will help you sort through your thoughts and feelings. You might write your ex-boyfriend or ex-husband several letters that express everything that’s inside of you – good and bad, ugly and beautiful. The letters can be as long as you need, and can even be divided into different “categories.” For instance, you might have a “Letter of Our Memories” in which you write about all the bad and good times you shared. You might have a “Letter of Confusion” that simply consists of all the questions you have for your ex. You can write one really long letter, and add to it for days or weeks.
Should you send the letters to your ex? It depends how you feel after three months have passed. Put the letters away for at least three months, and then re-read them. Would it change anything if your ex-boyfriend or ex-husband read the letters? What purpose would it serve? If you believe it would help with your own process of relationship closure, then you might send the letter. But for now, you need to focus on healing.
If you feel stuck in the grieving process, read Words of Comfort When Your Heart is Broken.
2. Refresh your home and work environment
If your ex-husband or ex-boyfriend moved out of the house, you might consider finding a new place to live. If someone you love passed on, you might even consider moving to a different state or province. I know this is a huge life change, but I think it’s one of the most practical ways to heal a broken heart when relationship closure is missing. Changing your environment will change your thoughts and emotions. You’re forcing yourself to see life and the world differently, which can help you move forward.
Do you think saying goodbye without relationship closure would be easier if you lived in an entirely new place? Even if you can’t move your home or change jobs immediately, allow your mind to play with the thought of living in a new environment. Where have you always dreamed of living, working, or wandering? This is your chance to explore the world with fresh new eyes!
Remember, however, that “wherever you go, there you are.” We don’t leave our emotional baggage behind when we leave a geographical or physical location. Going through the grieving process when a relationship ends without closure is the only way you’ll heal your heart and soul. Moving can make the process easier because it forces you to change your routine.
3. Look upwards and reach for the stars in the sky
In her comment above, my reader mentioned that she worked hard on her career. Her job took a big portion of her life and time. Now might be the perfect season for her to explore other parts of her life and personality. She might carve out more free time to explore her hobbies, travel, or take classes.
One of the best ways to deal with anything in life is to continue working on your spiritual and emotional growth. Have you felt the power of spiritual energy, have you heard the heartbeat that drives our whole universe? Whether you call that spirit God or the Universe or a Higher Power…it will only help you to dip into it. Re-establish your relationship with God, read books about healing without relationship closure, connect with people who uplift and inspire you.
4. Say hello to two new people today
People are nice. I’m Canadian and I travel to the US all the time. I never take directions to get from the airport to my hotel or hostel, because I like stopping and asking people for directions. People really are nice and helpful! The last thing you may feel like doing when a relationship ends is to force yourself to talk to someone new…but it could actually be the best way to heal and move forward.
Make a new friend. Just one. You don’t need to abandon your old friends or avoid your old haunts to find relationship closure. However, you may find it refreshing to build new friendships with people who don’t know you from your “old relationship” days.
Are you struggling with loneliness? I am 100% sure you are, because we all do. Making new friends is a Band-Aid for relationship closure and loneliness. To start thinking about true healing, read 7 Unexpected Ways to Stop Feeling Lonely Right Now.
5. Learn how to let go of someone you love
I wrote 3 Powerful Secrets and 75 Tips for Healing Your Heart because I needed to learn how to let go of my sister. Letting her go was the most painful and difficult thing I ever did.
My sister walked out of my life. She told me she never wanted to speak to me again. It was confusing and so painful because she gave me no reason or explanation. She just said she didn’t want to have a relationship with me anymore. Period. I always feel like I have to explain myself, because it seems like I must’ve done something to deserve being cut out of her life! But I didn’t. She also ended relationships with our other family members without any explanation, so I know this is something she needs to do.
Anyway – I needed to learn how to heal my heart without relationship closure, so I interviewed life coaches, counselors, and grief coaches on letting go. I know how shocking, confusing, and heart-wrenching it is when you’re letting go of a loved one. It’s devastating – and it changes how you see yourself. Learning how to let go of someone you love is about rediscovering your passion and identity.
Here’s what a reader recently emailed me about Letting Go of Someone You Love: “I gobbled the book down. Great help in putting things in perspective and in taking positive thoughtful action. Many thanks for sharing your wisdom and experiences.”
6. Talk to a counselor or psychologist
I’m a huge fan of counseling because therapists help you see yourself and your relationships more clearly. When we’re grieving, we can’t see or think straight. Our brains are going through all sorts of changes and emotions, and we’re literally traumatized. This makes it difficult to find healthy relationship closure on our own.
A counselor can help you see why you’re having trouble letting go of an ex, and help you learn to find closure on your own. My reader mentioned that she was pregnant but lost the baby; this can seriously complicate the whole process of letting go without relationship closure.
If you’re dealing with a complex situation or complicated grief after losing someone you love, you might want to call a helpline or join a support group. Get help, reach out! Don’t tackle this whole idea of “relationship closure” alone.
7. Recognize that you are responsible for your feelings
Nobody can “make you feel anything.” When you feel any emotion, you can choose whether to let that feeling sweep you away or derail it and put a more positive emotion in place. Those feelings of worthlessness or being unlovable are emotions you have control over – you do not have to feel that way.Remember that letting go of someone you love isn’t something you do once – and poof! You’re free, healed, and happy!
Rather, letting go is a journey peppered with steps forward and steps backward, good days and bad days, peaks and valleys. It takes a couple seconds to say Hello, but forever to say Goodbye.
For more suggestions on healing without relationship closure, read 6 Things You Need to Know About Uncoupling After a Breakup.
8. Journey from abandonment to healing
If you feel abandoned (which often happens when relationship closure isn’t part of a breakup), read The Journey From Abandonment to Healing: Turn the End of a Relationship into the Beginning of a New Life by Susan Anderson. Most people lose a piece of their heart when say goodbye to someone they love. But, life after a breakup (even without relationship closure) can still be meaningful, happy, and exciting – and there is love and laughter after breaking up! It just takes time to heal.
Susan Anderson’s book will take you through the stages of grieving over a lost relationship, and help you heal without saying good-bye directly to the person you lost.
If you have any thoughts on relationship closure, please comment below. I can’t offer relationship advice or counseling, but you might find it helpful to share your experience. Read through the comments on how to detach from someone you care about. You’ll see you’re not alone, and you may find strength and hope in the stories of other readers.
Expressing your feelings on not having relationship closure might help you heal and move forward. Writing is a great way to process your thoughts and work through your emotions. Also, when you share how you coped without relationship closure, you help others with their own endings.
Your thoughts are welcome below! I don't give advice, but you can get free relationship help from marriage coach Mort Fertel.