Where does this notion of tying up loose ends before we can move forward in our lives come from? Is this in fact even realistic? Life is constantly evolving and new challenges are an ongoing occurrence.
Many times I have had a client state that she should possibly not get into a new relationship until she has completely "let go" of the old relationship; or in another situation a client state that she is unsure as to whether she can move forward in meeting other potential partners, until she has fully finished mourning the loss of a deceased partner.
In these situations there is no rule book however it is important to be aware that we are always evolving, not in a vacuum but in a symbiotic process with our world; this back and forth creates and recreates our sense of self. In other words does it really matter if the widow who has not "fully finished mourning" finds new joy or new possibilities in another partnership, and ironically as a result finds herself adding light to her pain through this new relationship. Also does it really matter if the divorced man who has been struggling with letting go of his old memories and life-style, finds new meaning in another relationship, even when he thought he was still dealing with his last relationship.
This notion of closing one chapter before we begin another is not always a realistic lived reality as being human means embodying contradictions. One can clearly see these ideas in bereavement work where the 20 century medical model ideas were to let go of a deceased loved one in order to be "healthy" and move on; however 21 century bereavement work proposes quite the opposite, in that continuing a bond with a deceased loved one (albeit not a physical bond) is a strong form of coping and thus moving forward. I would propose that this idea of embodying forms of potential pain with possibilities is paradoxically a healthier and more realistic pattern of behavior; rather than removing ourselves from our pain or current lived reality and waiting on the sidelines for a "cure" in a vacuum we can actually use our social world to heal.