The subject of ambiguous loss is a relatively new one to me, as it relates to therapy, but is one that we frequently see with our clients (as well as in our own lives!). Pauline Boss' book "Ambiguous Loss: Learning To Live With Unresolved Grief" is one of the most amazing books I have read so far this spring! What is Ambiguous Loss?
Ambiguous Loss is when you have no closure with loss, or when loss is surrounded by uncertainty and ambiguity-- examples of this are divorce, addictions, infidelity, dealing with an aging parent, coping with the loss of a missing child, dealing with a relationship breakup, just to name a few. Unlike death, which has finality and an ending, ambiguous loss can be traumatic in that the survivors of this type of loss still have to deal with so much uncertainty in the healing process. The two ways Boss explains this type of loss: When a person is present physically, but is psychologically or emotionally absent (e.g., divorce, relationship break up, mental illness, alzheimer's disease)-- or when a person is physically absent, but is still psychologically or emotionally present (e.g., a missing child, a soldier who is missing in action).
This book not only explains ambiguous loss, but helps the reader to recognize how this type of loss is surrounded by fluctuating feelings of hope to hopelessness, while trying to make sense and find meaning in such loss.
If you recognize an area where you might be dealing with ambiguous loss, this book is highly recommended!
For clinician's working with Ambiguous Loss in therapy, Pauline Boss' book "Loss, Trauma, and Resilience: Therapeutic Work with Ambiguous Loss" is a great reference in working with clients, as well.
Joleen Watson, MS, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling. Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.