Academic journal article Family Relations

Ambiguous Loss

Academic journal article Family Relations

Ambiguous Loss

Article excerpt

Boss, P (1999). Ambiguous Loss. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 140 pages. Hardcover ISBN 0-674-017382, price $22.00.

What does a family do when the whereabouts of a loved one is unknown? How does a family cope when a member is physically present but psychologically absent as in cases of Alzheimer's disease? Is a non-custodial parent in or out of the family following divorce? In this book, Pauline Boss provides an insightful and poignant look at one of the most difficult problems families can face--coping with ``ambiguous loss." "Ambiguous loss" refers to vague and uncertain losses families experience regarding a member's presence or absence. Pauline Boss does an outstanding job of portraying these family situations that often leave members feeling confused, uncertain, and devastated.

Ambiguous Loss is written in a down-to-earth style that is accessible to practitioners and families experiencing such loss. Boss shares many personal examples from her own family life regarding the ambiguous losses associated with being an immigrant family. She also shares many of the insights she has gleaned from her research and clinical work with families experiencing ambiguous situations, such as pilots missing in action, adoption, Alzheimer's, and divorce.

Each chapter explores different aspects of ambiguous loss. The book begins by explaining ambiguous loss and some of its devastating effects. The second chapter describes families in which a member is psychologically present but physically absent, while the third chapter describes families in which a member is physically present but psychologically absent. …

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