The ambiguous loss that children experience

What is ambiguous loss?

Unlike adults, children’s experiences with loss are completely different in terms of understanding and perceiving loss, depending on their stage of development. It is also said that children are more resilient than adults, even in adversity. Despite this, problems of the mind may become more apparent over time. The cause is more often due to the situation the child is in and the involvement of surrounding adults, rather than the child’s own problems.


Using a disaster as an example, if one parent goes missing, the child may not be properly informed of the circumstances of the disappearance. Children can also be left in a state of anxiety with no idea of what is going on, while their families and those around them are scrambling to look out for their safety.


If there is a child in the family who is dealing with ambiguous loss, it is important not to put that child “out of the loop.” No matter how harsh the experience may be, it is important that the adults treat the child as another member of the family who is facing a loss.

When a child feels respected, they will seek out their own way through the grief and grow into it.