Ambiguous Loss and the Myth of Closure

Pauline Boss

September 22-24, 2017

Friday-Sunday, 2 nights

CE Credits available

See below for
accommodation rates.


Program Description

Ambiguous loss is loss that remains unclear and unverified—it has no closure. For example, a loved one might physically move because of a divorce, adoption, a family quarrel, or war or political upheaval, as is the case with migrants and refugees. Or someone goes missing psychologically because of Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias, serious mental illness, addiction, or a brain injury.

When loved ones cannot be physically reunited or psychologically healed, or when a loss is of such magnitude that it lacks meaning, the lens of ambiguous loss offers a way to cope and carry on despite unanswered questions. Often misdiagnosed as depression, the chronic sadness is actually a normal reaction to an abnormal type of loss. The culprit is the ambiguity.

With ambiguous loss, traditional grief and trauma therapies are inappropriate. Because ambiguous loss cannot be fixed or cured, the goal is not closure but the resilience to live with ambiguity. Not easy in a culture that values certainty.

Through illustrative stories and small group discussion with Pauline Boss, PhD, who coined the term “ambiguous loss,” we learn how to live well despite the ambiguity through her six researched-based guidelines:

Finding meaning

Adjusting mastery

Reconstructing identity

Normalizing ambivalence

Revising attachment to the lost person

Discovering new hope

This workshop is appropriate for those experiencing any kind of ambiguous loss, as well as for mental health professionals who want to incorporate these insights into their work with clients or patients.

Why Attend?

  • Find out how to recognize the two types of ambiguous loss, their effects, and how and why treatment and interventions differ from grief therapies.

  • Learn about recent grief research that emphasizes “living with grief” rather than “getting over it.”

  • Learn about and discuss the myth of closure, why we yearn for it, why it is unattainable, and why the alternative goal is to search for new meaning.

Things to Know

  • Program Schedule

    Download a sample schedule.

  • Prerequisites

    None required.

  • Experience Level

    None required.

  • CEs Available

    Continuing education is available for marriage and family therapists, psychologists, and licensed clinical social workers.

  • Recommended Reading

    Ambiguous Loss: Learning to Live With Unresolved Grief, by Pauline Boss

  • Special Interest to

    Mental health professionals, clergy, and educators who will expand their skills in being able to offer compassionate and effective tools to support clients’ suffering from unresolved and complicated grief

Program Faculty

boss_pauline-350x400Pauline Boss

Pauline Boss, PhD, is professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota. With her groundbreaking work as a scientist-practitioner, Dr. Boss is the…



Accommodations, meals, and campus activities rates, per person, for all program nights:

Pod: $280
Standard single: from $390
Standard double: from $360
Traditional: from $420
Suite: from $700

Taxes apply.

Learn More

Have a question?

Get in touch. We’re here to help. 1-844-544-1440 | Email

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