Jerry Sandusky, former assistant football coach at Penn State University, has been handed a sentence of 30 to 60 years in prison for multiple sexual assault charges. He molested many young boys and now has received his official state punishment.
Some journalists, bloggers and others are declaring “closure” along with “justice” for the victims, families, and others who have been harmed by this man. There are other voices declaring that there will be no closure to this case in spite of the hefty sentence. I agree that we should not be declaring closure.
In calling for closure, people in part are suggesting that this story can now “go away.” We are told that people can stop thinking about it and victims suddenly have closure. This is a mistake.
As I explain in Closure: The Rush to End Grief and What It Costs Us, we are frequently told that we need closure after bad things happen—“a satisfying ending” to a traumatic event. Closure has become central for explaining what we need after trauma and loss. It is a new emotional state, one that people supposedly need to find in order to heal after a loss. Yet there is no agreed upon answer for what closure means or how you are supposed to find it. Closure has been described—in contradictory ways—as justice, peace, healing, acceptance, forgetting, remembering, forgiveness, moving on, answered questions, or revenge.