Family Transitions and Ambiguous Loss

Family transitions include situations in which there are additions or exits of members, as well as events that require changes of the roles, behaviors, expectations, and interactions among members. Although some transitions are clear-cut, others involve events that result in doubt as to how the family should proceed. An ambiguous loss is a stressor situation in which the loss remains unclear, clouded by insufficient information or confusion. It occurs during transitions during which a family member is concurrently present and absent. Ambiguous losses involve both the psychological family that we socially construct and to which we give meaning and the physical or legal family structure that exists. This discussion presents two forms of ambiguous loss. The first form is situations in which an individual ...

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