Providing information and psychoeducation

To supporters and professionals

People experiencing “ambiguous loss” are concerned that there is something wrong with their inability to cope with the loss. At the same time, they are either consciously or unconsciously afraid of the comments made by those around them. For example, if a family member is missing, “It’s about time you move on…” and so on. It is said that due to this fear, people who have had such a loss often alienate the people around them.


In an “ambiguous loss,” no one can fully determine that loss. That is a fact. Those who support them should provide support on that basis. It is not helpful to try to reduce their anxiety by encouraging them to think in “black and white”, or trying to “leave them alone” by acting like the loss never happened. 


Information and psycho-education are important ways to support “ambiguous loss.” One needs an understanding of the hardships of the situation in which the family is placed. Examples include “It’s quite normal to feel that you can’t accept your loss, that it’s hard to move forward. It’s not like there’s anything wrong with you,” and, “It doesn’t matter if each person has a different view from the people around them, even within your family.” It is said to be important to remind them of these things over and over again.


You should also help them gradually reconnect with people they feel safe with. Connecting with such people can be very helpful when someone is coping with ambiguous loss on their own.