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1 minute book review on a powerful narrative that explores themes of loss and trauma, while also highlighting the remarkable resilience of its characters.

Loss, Trauma, and Resilience: Therapeutic Work With Ambiguous Loss – by Dr. Pauline Boss

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Most books about bereavement are focused on grieving healthily and then moving on healthily. And, while it may be said “everyone’s grief is on their own timescale”… society’s expectation is often quite fixed:

“Time will heal”, they say.

But what if it doesn’t? What happens when that’s not possible?

Ambiguous loss occurs when someone is on the one hand “gone”, but on the other hand, not necessarily.

This can be:

  • Someone was lost in a way that didn’t leave a body to 100% confirm it
    • (e.g. disaster, terrorism, war, murder, missing persons)
  • Someone remains physically present but in some ways already “gone”
    • (e.g. Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia, brain injury, coma)

These things stop us continuing as normal, and/but also stop us from moving on as normal.

When either kind of moving forward is made impossible, everything gets frozen in place. How does one deal with that?

Dr. Boss wrote this book for therapists, but its content is equally useful for anyone struggling with ambiguous loss—or who has a loved one who is, in turn, struggling with that.

The book looks at the impact of ambiguous loss on continuing life, and how to navigate that:

  • How to be resilient, in the sense of when life tries to break you, to have ways to bend instead.
  • How to live with the cognitive dissonance of a loved one who is a sort of “Schrödinger’s person”.
  • How, and this is sometimes the biggest one, to manage ambiguous loss in a society that often pushes toward: “it’s been x period of time, come on, get over it now, back to normal”

Will this book heal your heart and resolve your grief? No, it won’t. But what it can do is give a roadmap for nonetheless thriving in life, while gently holding onto whatever we need to along the way.

Click here to check out “Ambiguous loss, Trauma, and Resilience” on Amazon—it can really help

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