Closure: Myth & Death Reexamined

Goddess-Muse Myth, LJ Frank, Artist

by LJ Frank

A call was made. She was at the airport and placed in a rectangular wood box. She was flown across the waters. The plane landed. I arrived and saw her lying on a table. Her naked body up to her neck was covered with a white sheet. I had given last rites before when asked. This was different. She was twenty-four. I felt her forehead. Cold. What did I expect? I gave a silent prayer. The body belonged to my daughter. There is no closure with death or departure. Why should there be?

Closure is a social and psychological construct, a word with various artificial implications. It’s a state of mind. It implies conclusion or ending. I smile. My smile is more of a grimace. Closure is part of the history of myth. And myth has multiple associations – from the fabulous and heroic to colorful tales and even legends. The origins are mostly forgotten. In some form they are related to an historical event which in turn is of such character as to interpret some practice, religious belief, natural phenomena, or the existence of an institution.

Closure can be projected on battles, wars, funerary burial rites, local customs, jobs, people, and their presence in time and place. The myth of closure also has elements of a bitter tasting finality and indifference of life though the apparent ending may appear natural or contorted. The genetics of life change. Mutations of our spirit happen. Transitions occur. Harmony and disharmony have an ebb and flow.

Closure is propped up by stories we tell ourselves about people and events. Is there such a thing as closure outside the ashes of our remains? Closure is existential. It’s meaningless to those that have died whether ignoble or with grace. Our physical departure or death may have a finality about it, though energy does escape the body and may enter another organic entity. Our physical presence transitions into a memory. Absolute closure is an illusion.

The myth of closure incorporates the question of whether consciousness in some form survives. Images appear in our mind. Closure is an artificially embedded “want of the mind” that seeks a self-satisfying solution. The natural want of the brain is to continue existence. And we may look back at a space once filled with a person we knew. To remember is key to out humanity. Remembering is not closure.

Love, lust, despair among other diverse emotions haunt the soul. There is no closure among the dead, as it only exists in the living mind that is susceptible to myth. The human heart kneels and pleads to the Invisible.

Millions of years of evolution and perfecting the struggle to stay alive leaves open the question – is it any wonder what humans will do to each other in the name of survival or striving for something that justifies their presence? Is there not a natural aversion to “departures and death”?

Funerary practices are a caring business. The dead body lying in the casket may resemble that of the living person you knew. Indeed. if the body makes it to a funeral home. It may feel as if the body transitions from a physical to spiritual “product”.  But funeral homes are not social media accounts where the participants are the product.

Comfort is clothed in prayers, gatherings, and celebration of the dead person. The word soul among primitive cultures meant from water and blood. Unless the fluids are retained within the body or the body is cremated, the mortician carefully bleaches the blood and water before draining into the sewer system. The soul of ancestral connectivity is open to question. The flowers and memorials are like fingers hanging from a cliff over a void.  Life is gifted between two ostensible eternities.

We comfort each other when not killing each other and are voyeurs to our own bindings. Though volumes have been written about death and departure, we cloak our aversions. Medieval peoples would shake their heads astonished at modern ignorance as death and burial and the meaning of blood and water were scarlet threads woven into the fabric of their daily life.  

Modern humans find solace in a formalized closure on all levels of existence. Whether formal or not, such closure is buried in myth. We create a story dressed up around the meaning of “to exist, to live, to work, to love, to depart, to die” …who are these wise people who decide the meaning of a person’s existence and death? Vanity is demanding.

Our philosophical conversations are crucial to understanding the point or pointlessness of life and death. Or as the American theologian Jonathan Edwards intimated, what did “God” have in mind with the creation of the Earth and the human species (unless we were an experiment)? Edwards understood that singing praises for eternity to an Invisible Deity is supremely vain and superficial even for a Creator. Are myths our rationalizations and editing of reality? 

The coldness of the dead body haunts my mind at times. I move forward. I edit the reality of my life with the help of images and memories while knowing myths of closure do not comfort me, and philosophically obscure affirmation of my individual existence.