Why did the Relationship End? – 12 Steps for Closure and Dignity

In the first quarter of this year, I facilitated the ending of four marriages. These cases stand out for me for two reasons – one for the high statistic (in my practice) and two because these weren’t relationships that were filled with resentment and anger. These were couples who came to the bittersweet conclusion that their journey together was over and who wanted to honor the relationship by finding closure and gratitude for what had been. These endings were done with dignity.

I was careful to have each couple do their homework to ensure that they were making a decision they could stand by for years to come. When making a decision as life-changing as this, it’s important to ensure that you’re not in a fight or flight state and to take the time to still your mind and heart until you can reflect on the relationship as a centered adult. When you feel certain that you are not in a defensive or reactive space, allow yourself to appreciate your partner holistically and to consider the full journey of your relationship and not just the last chapter which might have left a bitter taste in your mouth.

If you are trying to overcome feeling rejected by a partner, or perhaps you are wrestling with the responsibility of leaving someone, or if you are mourning and seeking closure regarding a loved one who has passed away, by completing the following 12 Steps, you can find a deep meaning and appreciation for what you shared together. Saying goodbye is bigger than the pain of loss  – it’s also about having the honesty and grace to honor what you cherished.

12 Steps to Find Closure,  Avoid Regret and Maintain Dignity

  1. When I think through the chapters of our story together, I am most grateful for…
  2. I recognize that you came into my life to teach me…..
  3. Some of the most meaningful memories of you/us are….
  4. The hardest part about letting you go is…
  5. I won’t miss…
  6. I will miss…
  7. I could have managed our relationship better by…
  8. You could have managed our relationship better by…
  9. I need to forgive you for….
  10. I need to forgive myself for…
  11. I know that our time together has reached its end because…
  12. Thanks to our relationship, I have learned the following about myself…

It’s become increasingly clear to me that our key relationships pave the way for us to truly know ourselves. On a personal note and relevant to this blog, I would like to honor the tremendous gift of my father-in-law, Lawrence Clucas, who recently passed away after a tragic hit and run accident. Lawrence (Lollipop) found a way to nestle into the empty chair in my heart that was waiting for a father. It’s taken my own reflective work to realize that although Lol’s no longer here, he still occupies that chair… To help process our loss as a family,  we’ve spontaneously used many of the above 12 Steps as discussion points to move through the simultaneous experience of loss and joy that comes with a goodbye that leaves no negotiation.

The Healing Gift of Flowers

When the heart is broke and needs healing, what a comfort it is to receive the beauty and fragility of flowers – each gerbera, willow, blushing bride, sweet pea and tulip giving a gentle hug of its own. I would like to give a huge shout out to Josie and her team at Fabulous Flowers in Claremont, Cape Town. This gem of a florist can be found at http://fabulousflowers.co.za (tel: 021 674 7206) and offers a unique collection of beautifully crafted flowers and gifts for any occasion – the beauty of which still lingers in my lounge 2 weeks after the memorial service and serves as a delicate ointment to our wounds.

 

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