Pioneering educator and researcher Dr. Pauline Boss coined the term “ambiguous loss” to describe a form of grief that is common in caregivers of family members with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.  It’s marked by a never-ending grief for the person with dementia who is “there but not there,” and it forces the caregiver to confront a new and confusing relationship – one ruptured by the dementia.  Dr. Boss tells us how the phrase “ambiguous loss” evolved and how she experienced it in her own childhood, growing up in Wisconsin in her Swiss immigrant family.  She explains why people who are mastery-oriented have a harder time with ambiguous loss, how Western culture has conditioned us to believe we can change things we can’t and how this mindset prevents caregivers from having “good enough” relationships with care partners who have dementia.  We’ll hear suggestions for how to lower stress levels and increase your tolerance for ambiguity, something Dr. Boss is working on in her own life as a caregiver for her husband, who is unable to walk.  When she’s not caring for her husband, Dr. Boss is working on a new book called, “The Myth of Closure.”  She recently launched her ambiguous loss online training program.  Dr. Pauline Boss is the author of five books including, “Ambiguous Loss: Learning to Live With Unresolved Grief,” and the book, “Loving Someone Who Has Dementia” which will be released as an audio book later this year.

Explore the work of Dr. Pauline Boss: Ambiguous Loss


Pauline Boss, PhD_Ambiguous Loss

Pauline Boss, PhD


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