Six guidelines

To supporters and professionals

Dr. Pauline Boss has made a list of the following six guidelines for interventions to be undertaken by supporters.

These six guidelines are not linear, but move in a circular fashion, going back and forth. These six guidelines are explained in detail in the book, Ambiguous Loss and Recovery from Trauma (published in 2006/ Japanese translation in 2015).



1.Finding meaning

<Helpful points>

  • Labeling a troubling situation as an “ambiguous loss”
  • Discuss with family and peers how you are coping with what has happened.
  • Don’t have anything to hide, etc.


2.Tempering Mastery

<Helpful points>

  • Admit that the world isn’t always fair.
  • Know that even if you are feeling down and depressed, it’s all because of the ambiguous situation, not you or your family.
  • Reduce self-blame, etc.


3.Reconstructing identity

<Helpful points>

  • Find “psychological family” (someone who seems like family) in the community
  • Think flexibly about who has what role in the family.
  • Do not get isolated.
  • Do not be overly obsessed with social norms such as saving face, etc.


4.Normalizing Ambivalence

<Helpful points>

  • Normalize feelings of guilt, shame, and anger as a natural part of life.
  • Discuss these feelings with your peers and people you trust.
  • Do not make a “no discussion rule” with family and friends, etc.


5.Revising attachment

<Helpful points>

  • Acknowledge that the family, home, and hometown that exist in your mind are not the same as they used to be.
  • Grieve over what you have lost and celebrate what you still have.
  • Find new human connections, etc.


6.Discovering hope

<Helpful points>

  • Try dealing with ambiguity easily
  • Accept unanswered questions
  • Feel in control of your life, even if things don’t go the way you want them to
  • Thinking it is OK, even if you fail, etc.