The Media Do Serious Damage

Zig Ziglar on

Frequently, especially since the Columbine High School tragedy, and the tragic deaths of John Kennedy Jr., his wife and sister-in-law, I hear members of the media make reference to "closure." To give them the benefit of the doubt, I would say their intentions are good; but from my perspective, they obviously have never experienced the loss of one they deeply loved, particularly a child.

To even mildly hint that as a result of a funeral service, a meeting or even a prayer meeting, the mourning survivors will experience "closure" is sadly misguided. This is true even if the president of the United States conducts the meeting, or every priest, preacher or evangelist in America is gathered together. We don't "bring closure" to conclude the life of a loved one.

The reality is, no loving parent believes that the funeral, memorial, eulogies, church services, town-hall meetings or cards and flowers will bring "closure" to the loss of one they cherished so deeply.

I speak from painful personal experience. Over a quarter of a century ago, I attended the funeral of my mother, who meant much to me in my life. Widowed during the heart of the Great Depression, with six children too young to work, she struggled manually -- and, I might add, successfully -- all of her life. Her children loved her deeply, and that certainly includes me. To this date, when "Sweet Hour of Prayer" or "The Old Rugged Cross" is sung, I can hear my mother, in her sweet, clear voice, singing that song. The memories come rushing back, and I weep.

In 1999 I received a letter with several cards and a photograph. The picture is that of Mark Nicula in my arms back in 1980. Little Mark had no hair. Even as I was hugging him, he was dying of cancer. A few weeks later, he was gone. His father was responding to a letter and a book I sent him. He wanted me to have the photo and the personal note, as well as some cards dealing with grief. I wept, because I loved that little guy, but I wept mostly for his dad, who still weeps for him, although it was years ago that he bade Mark goodbye.

We lost our oldest daughter on May 13, 1995, after a bout with pulmonary fibrosis. As a Christian, I'm completely comfortable with the assurance of God Himself that our Suzan is in heaven with Him. I have equal assurance that we will see her again, but we have not "brought closure" to the loss of our daughter.

The Bible says God collects our tears in a bottle; that He does not take the death of a loved one lightly. God, too, grieves over the loss of a loved one. Christ Himself did not like funerals. As a matter of fact, He never attended one. He was invited, but in every case, he restored the breath of life to the deceased, and the grieving process ended as rejoicing began. It's my conviction that closure comes when we close our eyes here and open them in the presence of God. In that instant, we experience closure, because nothing is "left hanging" -- we are reunited with our loved ones, the grieving stops and eternal rejoicing begins.

The basic problem with leading someone to believe he or she can "bring closure" or that they should "get over it" or "get on with their life" is that, years later, when they have not "gotten over it" or "brought closure" to their grief, they begin to wonder if they're normal. Better words for the media to use would be, "We know their family and friends are hurting, so our thoughts and prayers are with them."


Final thought: Regardless of who you are and what you do, please remove the word "closure" from your vocabulary when referencing the death of a loved one. "Can I see another's woe,

And not be in sorrow, too?

Can I see another's grief,

And not seek for kind relief?" -- William Blake


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