Artwork by Owen Gent

Closure normally requires two or more people coming together to consider each other’s points of view and come to a consensual agreement for how to move forward, together or separately. But if one or more people are unwilling or unable to undergo this ritual, we can be left with a lack of closure.

When someone has ghosted on a conversation, commitment or conflict, it’s important to realize this as an act of indifference that counters belonging. Ghosting is all we believe we owe to a world on which we don’t feel we’ve made an impact. In a sense, it is to make yourself a ghost in your own life, dissociating from the importance of your presence in others’ lives. It is to withhold your disagreements, your longing to be seen, and to make yourself and others around you disposable. Unless someone is willing to hold you accountable, and be accountable themselves, they can never take a seat at the table of belonging.

We need to show each other that love is worth wrestling for, braving ourselves into the fires of intimacy. We are not expendable. And we shall know each other every time we show up for conflict, hurt, and confusion.

If you have invited such a “ghost” to move consciously through conflict and they’ve refused you, first you must give yourself wholeheartedly to grief. In French, instead of “I miss you,” we say, “Tu me manques” which means “you are missing from me.” In your grief, you are valuing the impact of your separation, the missing they’ve left behind.

When you’re ready, find or create an object that symbolizes the closure you seek, and consider imbuing it with your prayers:

I bless your absence, your silence, your disappearance from me with this grief. May the echo of your going missing reach back to you one day, so you know your own substantiality. May I know my grief as a measure of my willingness to devotion, and may I trust that I’ve been spared from halfway love. May this and all disappearances inspire me to become ever more scrappy and tenacious in love. May I know with greater clarity others who are the same. And when I meet them, may I redouble my commitment to the craft of belonging.

Once you’ve given thanks and made your intent, throw your symbolic object off a bridge, burn it in a fire, bury it in a grave—but dispose of it and let it be final. There are a million tiny heartbreaks in every failed friendship, every disappointed hope, every extended hand denied, and we must grieve them all. But at a certain point, we also must stop carrying them with us. We must declare what’s done was all that could be done.

Every separation you make from a person or place that cannot meet you where you stand is a step towards the community of your true belonging. Not everyone will share your values, but in the act of turning away from those that don’t, you are also turning towards those that do.

Excerpt From: “Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home” by Toko-pa Turner