Ambiguous loss: A complicated type of grief when loved ones disappear

Pauline Boss, Janet R. Yeats

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Ambiguous loss is an unclear loss that continues without resolution or closure. It is a relational rupture that can be physical or psychological. The chronicity and complexities of ambiguous loss create symptoms that may be construed as medical disorders such as depression or persistent complex bereavement disorder. Because the family's story of loss may never have an ending, the therapeutic goal shifts to resiliency. Tthe authors present six guidelines about meaning, mastery, identity, ambivalence, attachment, and hope. They have been found useful in empowering individuals and families to move forward with their lives despite the 'not knowing'. Links to chronic sorrow and disenfranchised grief are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)63-69
Number of pages7
JournalBereavement Care
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2014


  • ambiguous loss
  • complicated grief
  • lack of closure
  • resilience
  • unresolved loss


Dive into the research topics of 'Ambiguous loss: A complicated type of grief when loved ones disappear'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this