Osama bin Laden’s Death And The Importance of Closure

I just wrote a blog post on @CSOonline about bin Laden’s death and how, in my opinion, it doesn’t change things. My good friend Alan Shimel read it and immediately took issue with what I said: “Sorry, it does change everything. A sense of closure that I didn’t even realize I was craving all of these years,” he wrote.

He can understand the craving for closure better than I can on this matter. He lost a loved one on that awful day.

Mood music: 

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He wrote to me, “I wrote something last night right after I heard the news, http://www.ashimmy.com/2011/05/the-night-the-usa-got-its-groove-back.html. But I have to tell you that Bonnie stayed up late to watch everything while we both had tears in our eyes. We felt like finally her sister could rest in peace. I didn’t realize how not catching him had effected me.”

I hear you, brother. God Bless you both.

That day definitely had an effect on my state of mind, and I didn’t know any of the victims personally. I came very close to an emotional breakdown.

There are two types of head cases headed for a breakdown: There’s the type that tries hard to get him or herself killed through reckless behavior, and then there are those who cower in their room, terrified of what’s on the other side of that door.

I fell into the latter category. I started drinking copious amounts of wine to feel OK in my skin, and I went on a food binge that lasted about three months and resulted in a 30-pound weight gain. The still-undiagnosed issues I had going on beneath the service were the perfect target for terrorists.

I do know many people who lost loved ones that day, and the lack of closure did indeed send them into their own personal torment of addiction and depression. Alan mentioned that one of his relatives has struggled with depression since that day.

In my security blog on @CSOonline, I suggested that bin Laden’s death doesn’t change much because we made him irrelevant a long time ago by getting on with our lives instead of cowering as he wanted us to.

I firmly believe that.

But at the same time, I do recognize that this is a major moment of closure for a lot of people. And that’s huge.

In the past year, I’ve gotten closure on a friend’s suicide by reconnecting with his widow and making amends for my lack of helpfulness when she needed it most. Closure lifts a big weight from your heart. But the wound never goes away completely. And whether we get closure or not, we still have to get on with our lives.

That’s what Alan and Bonnie have done since 9-11. They stood straight and moved forward. Alan is someone I’ve come to admire in the security community.

I’m glad his and Bonnie’s steps are lighter now.


2 thoughts on “Osama bin Laden’s Death And The Importance of Closure

  1. I feel very quiet and thoughtful about the news. This is the first morning since Ash Wednesday I have listened to NPR on my way in to the office. I had very mixed feelings hearing of the jubilant celebrations… I empathize but can not cheer about his – or anyone’s death in the midst of such hate and violence —

    I remember that God’s love for the emptiest and least complete man is greater than any man’s love for anyone.

    I think this is a great opportunity for closure on a giant hurt —

    I appreciate Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi’s statement for the Vatican, that this is an opportunity for is to reflect “on the serious responsibilities of each person before God and before men, and hopes and works so that every event may be the occasion for the further growth of peace and not of hatred,” http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1101730.htm

  2. Bill, thank you for writing on this and appreciating the POV we have on this here in our house. I am glad you found your own “closure” by realizing that the eating and drinking were just ways of self-medicating and not facing your own demons. We all have them. God bless us all.

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