What is ambiguous loss?
Dr. Pauline Boss of the University of Minnesota’s Family Social Science department (my University and major) has had groundbreaking research of this theory. Ambiguous loss is loss that has no closure or certainty/finality. An example (although definitely not the only type of ambiguous loss) might be when a parent begins to suffer from dementia and is no longer psychologically present, but lives for 10+ more years. Children/friends of these people often experience ambiguous loss because of the lack of closure and the physical or (no and) psychological presence. The loss of a parent, friend, or any type of relationship can result in ambiguous loss. While grieving is a process in all loss, it is a long process when experiencing ambiguous loss – one must also learn to live with the ambiguity, which can go on for years.
Ambiguous loss is a complicated concept because it is something that not many people understand unless you are experiencing it. It’s a unique kind of loss that varies from case-to-case.
I am just learning about ambiguous loss thank you to my own (new) therapist. It’s fascinating and really an important concept for people to understand.