Finding Closure When You Can't Have Restoration

Aug 29, 2022

Not all relationships can be restored. Not all relationships should be restored.

What God has been teaching me (Justin) over the past few weeks is that you can have closure even if you can’t have restoration.

A little over four years ago, I found out my dad wasn’t my biological father. A little over four months ago, I received a call that my biological father was dying of cancer. I had never met him.

So ten days after my 40th birthday, on Sunday August 25, 2013 I met my biological father for the first time. pic

Last Friday, I received a phone call that he’d passed away.

Even now as I type it, it feels weird that I have a parent that has died. As he passed away, so did any chance of a father/son relationship being restored. It simply isn’t possible. He couldn’t make up 40 years of absence. He couldn’t give me back what he wasn’t there to give. It isn’t possible.

But just because I don’t have restoration of that relationship, I do feel closure. I feel like when I had the opportunity, I did everything I could to bring peace to my heart and closure to the situation.

I think many of us feel like failures if we’ve had a relationship fail. But the truth is there are relationships we can never reconcile. But just because you can’t reconcile a relationship, doesn’t mean that brokenness has to follow you into your other relationships.

Here are some things that have helped me over the past few months find closure in the most fractured of relationships with my biological father.

1. Lower your expectations

The person you’re struggling with is a broken person. They aren’t perfect and they will probably never live up to what you expect them to be in the relationship. In order to find closure, you have to set them free from your fairy tale expectations. I had to come to terms with the fact that my biological father would never make up what was lost…so I couldn’t expect that from him.

2. Do the next right thing

You don’t have to figure everything out all at once. Maybe you’re dealing with an ex-spouse or an old friend or a former business partner and you want closure all at once. Closure comes as we just do the next right thing. Scripture says it like this, “As far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”  Maybe that is not sending a heated email or text message; maybe it’s setting up an appointment to meet them for coffee; maybe it is offering forgiveness. You don’t have to do it all at once, just do the next right thing.

3. Surround yourself with a support system

I can’t tell you how important it is to have people that love you and will encourage you as you are trying to find closure in a broken relationship. Trisha stayed up crying with me; our boys have loved and encouraged me. Friends have called me or texted just to check in. It isn’t always easy to let other people in after you’ve been hurt by people…but it is essential.

4. Give yourself grace

Just because a relationship has failed or is dysfunctional doesn’t make you a failure. Not every relationship can be restored. Not every relationship should be restored. But if you’ve done everything you can to bring that relationship to a place of closure, be okay with that. God isn’t disappointed with you. Giving yourself grace in this process will help you find the emotional and spiritual closer you need to move forward.

This is s a process for me as I daily learn to live in my new reality. I hope the honest and raw post is helpful for someone that is struggling to find closure in a relationship they can’t restore.