Sunday, June 26, 2016

#SOL16: Living with Loss

from my art journal 6.25.16 (gesso, textured paste, acrylic paint, stabilo pencil, newspaper)
Storytelling has always been a way to find meaning about loss. - Pauline Boss. Ambiguous Loss: Learning to Live with Unresolved Grief (Kindle Location 1264).


All week I have been emotionally off. At first I thought it was a result of experiencing Father's Day this year without Rob.  And this may well be the source of the discomfort. But now I think it is more complicated then that.


Tonight as I was out walking I decided to listen to the most recent episode (PAULINE BOSS — THE MYTH OF CLOSURE) from Krista Tippett's On Being. Pauline Boss, family therapist, developed the theory of ambiguous loss--a type of loss that is felt by survivors of a missing person (ex., a child who is kidnapped) or a psychologically unavailable person (ex., someone suffering from dementia). At the beginning of the episode, Boss said this:

There is no such thing as closure. We have to live with loss, clear or ambiguous. And it's OK. 

The statement, "We have to live with the loss" brought me to tears. Immediately.  I kept walking and listening and I was crying.  My response was large and immediate.

I have wanted to get over Rob's death, to put aside this pain, and in some ways felt obligated to do so especially when repeatedly asked how Devon and I are doing. For me, that question creates a context that suggests Dev and I should be getting better--getting through the grief as if all of this had an ending.  As I listened I thought about how a week ago I discussed living with loss with the therapist I am seeing. I discussed this huge idea as if I had it all in hand and as soon as I left the office I promptly forgot all about the conversation we were having with the idea that loss never ends, rather we learn to live with it.

I blocked the entire conversation from my mind and went about the week. Consciously, I did not attend to exploring what living with loss might mean, how the idea of loss may change, and the ambiguity associated with loss and living with loss.

This is work before me.  Tonight I have questions to consider, nary an answer to be found and that is enough.


  1. Living with loss, yes that's our challenge. Someone just read my last letter to Tuvia and applauded my move to closure. What? That was not my intention. I can feel that after 10 months I'm feeling better, accepting the fact that Tuvia isn't coming back and figuring out how I live in this new reality. But I am living without the love of my life. That's the reality.
    I just downloaded a sample of Ambiguous Loss. Thanks.
    Bonnie K

    1. This is the work. And it is hard work as it also feels inevitable. Closure is too final. Living with loss, feeling waves of sadness and feeling deeply alive and willing and excited by life --all of this is grieving. The spaces between sadness grow. An inevitable garden we tend.

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