What is ambiguous loss?
Ambiguous loss is when you may feel unsure if a loss happened or what or who has been lost, such as: a break up, absent family and friends, challenges at school/university, identity changes within yourself, people who are still present but treat you differently, physical or psychological disorders in yourself or family members, etc.
Tips for coping with ambiguous loss
1. Know your loss is valid
What you’re experiencing is grief and worthy of your grief reactions. Only you have the power to decide if it is an important loss to you.
2. Practice "Both/And" thinking
By understanding that there can be multiple truths in a situation allows you to see the reality of the situation. For instance rather than thinking “my partner broke up with me and I can never find a person like them”, think “my partner broke up with me and I am still worthy of a great love”.
3. Find your support people
Find people in your lives that make you feel supported. Identify friends and their role in your life: someone you can talk about your loss with, someone you can fun with, someone you can study with etc.
4. Find radical acceptance
Sometimes closure is simply not able to happen. As hard as this can be, it is helpful to accept the feelings you have towards your loss and that the situation. Try to find acceptance of the way things are.
5. Seek professional help
It is okay to seek out a therapist or psychiatrist for managing your loss if you feel like it is negatively impacting your life. Therapy can help you process and validate the grief you are feeling.