Ambiguous Loss: Learning to Live with Unresolved Grief

Ambiguous Loss: Learning to Live with Unresolved Grief

Hardback

By (author) Pauline Boss

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Paperback $21.37
  • Publisher: HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS
  • Format: Hardback | 160 pages
  • Dimensions: 144mm x 208mm x 20mm | 381g
  • Publication date: 25 May 1999
  • Publication City/Country: Cambridge, Mass
  • ISBN 10: 0674017382
  • ISBN 13: 9780674017382

Product description

Frozen sadness - what we have when we cannot really know what we have lost. This is what Pauline Boss illuminates, and helps to ease. It could be a loved one still alive yet lost to a person: a soldier son missing in action, or a constantly travelling spouse. In another kind of ambiguous loss, the loved one may be physically present but beyond a person's reach - such as someone with Alzheimer's disease.

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Review quote

You will find yourself thinking about the issues discussed in this book long after you put it down and perhaps wishing you had extra copies for friends and family members who might benefit from knowing that their sorrows are not unique...This book's value lies in its giving a name to a force many of us will confront--sadly, more than once--and providing personal stories based on 20 years of interviews and research.--Pamela Gerhardt "Washington Post "

Editorial reviews

A compassionate exploration of the effects of ambiguous loss and how those experiencing it handle this most devastating of losses. Family therapist and researcher Boss (Univ. of Minnesota) has studied ambiguous loss in the families of pilots declared missing in action in Vietnam and Cambodia, in midlife couples whose adolescent children have recently left home, and in families where one member has Alzheimer's. This latter group includes Native American women of the Ashinabe tribe in northern Minnesota. The author divides ambiguous loss into two basic types: first, where someone is perceived as physically absent but psychologically present, e.g., men declared missing in action who are not known to be alive or dead; second, where someone is perceived to be psychologically absent but physically present, e.g., a spouse with dementia or other mental illness. Situations that can create a feeling of ambiguous loss also include such common phenomena as immigration or a move, adoption, divorce, and the workaholism of a partner. Boss finds that the uncertainty of such situations can easily lead to depression, anxiety, and family conflict. Using personal narratives of those she has worked with, she reports how those experiencing ambiguous loss often struggle to control an unclear situation by searching for absolutes, either denying that anything has changed or, alternatively, acting as though the loved one is completely gone. Among the Ashinabe women, however, she found a spiritual acceptance of ambiguity, indicating that a tolerance for ambiguity and uncertainty seems to be related to cultural values and spiritual beliefs. As a family therapist, Boss's own approach is to encourage families to talk together, to reach a consensus about how to mourn that which has been lost and how to celebrate that which remains. Her simple stories of families doing just that contain lessons for all. Insightful, practical, and refreshingly free of psychobabble. (Kirkus Reviews)