Sunday, September 29, 2013

Exploring Ambiguous Loss

     Hello and welcome to my blog, Exploring Ambiguous Loss. If you haven't already read my blog description and bio, allow me to tell you a bit about myself and this project. I am a senior in an undergraduate Psychology program and minoring in Social Work. My focus for the last four years has been counseling and cognitive/behavioral psychology. My goal, in the future, is to be accepted into an MSW (Master of Social Work) program and eventually become a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. This semester I am taking a course called Psychology of Loss where we will be studying theories of grief and loss and exploring specific kinds of loss such as homelessness, divorce, cancer, and HIV/AIDS. For our final project we are assigned to create an e-portfolio in which we explore a topic of loss not covered in class. In this blog I will exploring the topic of ambiguous loss. I will be making comparisons to the theories learned in class, discovering and referencing different kinds of ambiguous loss, researching materials dedicated to the topic of ambiguous loss, and hopefully shedding some light onto the matter for anyone who reads this blog. 

     Before I begin my exploration of ambiguous loss I would like to briefly define it for those who may not have come across the term before. I, myself, have only recently become familiar with the term. I will start by defining grief. In reality, grief is a multi-faceted emotional, cognitive, behavioral, physical, and social response to a loss. However, conventionally it is defined as a sadness towards the death of someone. I admit that when I enrolled in this course I was fully expecting to learn about coping with death and perhaps counseling methods to help the bereaved. That is only one small aspect of grief and loss. Disenfranchised grief is a term used to describe the kind of grief one experiences at a loss that is not particularly understood, validated, or supported by the people who support the grieving person. As you can imagine, this is extremely difficult for someone who is grieving to experience. Ambiguous loss is a kind of disenfranchised grief where one may not be able to clearly define who or what is lost.  When my younger brother was diagnosed with ADHD I experienced a sense of loss for the ease I had hoped he could navigate life with. Ambiguous loss can be quite confusing and hard to adjust to. While I certainly sensed loss after my brother's initial diagnosis I also felt guilt because I had known friend who had lost siblings to traumatic events and I imagined they would have been very angry with me for these feelings seeing as I still had my brother with me. Another concern with ambiguous loss is that often the grieving person's family, friends, and other social support systems do not know how to comfort or reassure someone who is experiencing an ambiguous loss.

     I chose this topic because I believe that ambiguous loss is a common occurrence in everyday life. I feel that many people experiencing this kind of loss do not seek professional help during this time and that is due to a "grief stigma" that those only those grieving after a death have validation for their sense of loss. I hope to expand my awareness of who experiences feelings of loss and why and how to understand and validate those feelings. I also hope that if you're reading this you may come to understand grief in a new way as well. 

Thanks for reading, and until next time, 
Be well.

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