Ambiguous Loss

Our elders play a very important place in our lives. They are the keepers of our traditions, values, language and history. We must show respect to them at all times. Elders are our guides to our future. They are the leaders in our community, role models for our children, and play a very important part in our development. The elders are the storytellers of our history; it is through their stories that a lesson is to be learned. They speak with honor and with a great deal of pride. Elders are our guides and teachers.

Their expertise is of vital importance to us. They shape our way of thinking, socializing, and our view of our ever-changing world.

Family wisdom offers a strong foundation in today’s world.

Ambiguous Loss and Grief for Elder Caregivers

Ambiguous loss is a loss that remains unclear. The premise of the ambiguous loss theory is that uncertainty or a lack of information about the where-abouts or status of a loved one as absent or present as dead or alive, is traumatizing for most individuals, couples, and families. The ambiguity freezes the grief process and cognition, thus blocking the coping and decision-making process. Closure is impossible. Family members have no other option but to construct their own truth about the status of the person absent in mind or body. Without information to clarify their loss, family members have no choice but to live with the paradox of absence and presence.

  • Strategies for Living Positively with Ambiguous Loss and Grief
  • Reflect on the losses that occur in the life of your family member and your own life.
  • Acknowledge, express and share the grief you feel in response to those losses with people whom you know will understand and be supportive.
  • Express grief in creative ways through writing, painting, photography or other art forms.
  • Look after your own needs. Take breaks from care. It is vital for your health and morale, and will help you to make better decisions and be more effective as a caregiver.
  • Stay connected to family and friends, enhance existing relationships, and be open to building new relationships with others who can be supportive and enhance your life amid the loss and grief.
  • Let your family and friends know how they can help, rather than assuming people know what you need.
  • Seek out information about your family member’s illness. Talk to others who are caregivers at different stages of the journey. This knowledge will give you more ideas and information about how best to cope with the illness and plan for the future.
  • Seek out support from family and friends, professional organizations, other professionals, and/or participate in support groups.
  • To restore energy and balance, despite limited time and resources, you can make a variety of positive self-care choices and changes. Stay physically active and eat healthily. Remain mentally active and socially involved. Engage in stress management and relaxation activities. Tend to your spiritual health.
  • Hope can be renewed each time yo make a positive adjustment to the challenges and changes in your family member’s illness and your situation. You may experience tremendous personal growth by taking on new roles and responsibilities, acquiring new skills and knowledge, building new support networks, and finding different ways to connect with your family member.

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