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Season 10: Facing Reality, Claiming Leadership | Episode 3

Stewarding Ambiguous Loss

Overview

This conversation with Dr. Pauline Boss, author of Ambiguous Loss: Learning to Live with Unresolved Grief, is hope-filled, encouraging, validating, and motivating. Her insights manage to be both practical and weighty. She reminds us that we live in a mastery culture – that is, we want to be in control, have the answers, and win – which is, of course, a myth, so we are a nation (yes, a whole nation!) of unresolved grief, needing to name our profound sense of loss in the face of so much uncertainty. Wow! Think about the implications for the church – the essential role we can play in stewarding grief today, navigating uncertainty, residing in hope. This conversation feels like holy ground. We hope it ignites a new imagination for your leadership, your relationships, your way of being in the world.

In this conversation, you’ll hear:

  • How Dr. Boss came to coin the term “ambiguous loss”

  • Loss vs. Grief in our culture

  • Learning to sit with loss and unanswered questions

  • Ambiguous loss in congregations / leading congregations to grieve ambiguous loss

  • Why closure is a myth and what that means for how we live and lead

Meet Our Guest

Rahel Billups

Dr. Pauline Boss

Pauline Boss, PhD, Professor Emeritus at the University of Minnesota is a Fellow in the American Psychological Association and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and a former president of the National Council on Family Relations. She practiced family therapy for over 40 years.

With her groundbreaking work in research and practice, Dr. Boss coined the term ambiguous loss in the 1970s and since then, developed and tested the theory of ambiguous loss, a guide for working with families of the missing, physically or psychologically. She summarized this research and clinical work in her widely acclaimed book Ambiguous Loss: Learning to Live with Unresolved Grief (Harvard University Press, 2000).

In addition to over 100 peer reviewed academic articles and chapters, her other books include Loss, Trauma, and Resilience: Therapeutic Work with Ambiguous Loss (W. W. Norton, 2006) and Loving Someone Who Has Dementia: How to Find Hope While Coping with Stress and Grief (Jossey-Bass, 2011). Her most recent book is The Myth of Closure: Ambiguous Loss in a Time of Pandemic and Change (W. W. Norton, 2022). Her work is known around the world wherever ambiguous losses occur, and her books have been translated 23 times into various languages. As of 2022, Dr. Boss was granted Emeritus status as a longtime family therapist, and, as of 2023, Emeritus status in the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.

Show Notes

Pauline Boss, PhD, Professor Emeritus at the University of Minnesota is a Fellow in the American Psychological Association and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and a former president of the National Council on Family Relations. She practiced family therapy for over 40 years.


With her groundbreaking work in research and practice, Dr. Boss coined the term ambiguous loss in the 1970s and since then, developed and tested the theory of ambiguous loss, a guide for working with families of the missing, physically or psychologically. She summarized this research and clinical work in her widely acclaimed book Ambiguous Loss: Learning to Live with Unresolved Grief (Harvard University Press, 2000).

In addition to over 100 peer reviewed academic articles and chapters, her other books include Loss, Trauma, and Resilience: Therapeutic Work with Ambiguous Loss (W. W. Norton, 2006) and Loving Someone Who Has Dementia: How to Find Hope While Coping with Stress and Grief (Jossey-Bass, 2011). Her most recent book is The Myth of Closure: Ambiguous Loss in a Time of Pandemic and Change (W. W. Norton, 2022). Her work is known around the world wherever ambiguous losses occur, and her books have been translated 23 times into various languages. As of 2022, Dr. Boss was granted Emeritus status as a longtime family therapist, and, as of 2023, Emeritus status in the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.

For more information about Dr. Boss, her writings, and the ambiguous loss online training program, see www.ambiguousloss.com.

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