"Ambiguous Loss and the 2020 Pandemic" Transcript

Guest: Dr. Pauline Boss

(Listen to the audio on the episode page.)

BETTY: Welcome to Mind of State, a podcast for both political junkies and armchair shrinks. I’m psychoanalyst and trauma therapist Betty Teng.

JONATHAN: And I’m communications strategist and political hack Jonathan Kopp. Join us as we welcome experts in politics and psychology to consider this: the state of our nation through the state of our minds and the mind of our state. Hi, Betty.

BETTY: Hi, Jonathan.


BETTY: So this week we’re going to be talking about ambiguous loss, which I think is a perfect topic for us on Mind of State, because it has to do with mind and state. My side of things: mind. This is something that everybody’s grappling with in the session rooms, losing ways of life, losing things, but in a very ambiguous way in this pandemic.

JONATHAN: Well, on the political side, ambiguous loss is so rich and so perfect for this moment. On the one hand, we have ambiguity, right, where we’re in election season right now, where it’s all black and white. There are, there are only extremes and there’s no room anymore for conversation about ambiguous topics in politics and, and loss in the political space. We’re dealing with loss of jobs, loss of lives, loss of the ability to congregate in common spaces where we would talk about ideas. So ambiguous loss in a political context is rich.

BETTY: I’m excited that we’re gonna be talking to the person who coined the phrase: Dr. Pauline Boss, who I actually studied in graduate school.

JONATHAN: Like the, the expert, is here on Mind of State to talk about it.

BETTY: We’re going to the source.

JONATHAN: So with that it’s my pleasure to welcome Dr. Pauline Boss to Mind of State. Doctor Boss is professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota. She’s a fellow in the American Psychological Association and the American Association for Marriage and Family. As we just mentioned, Dr. Boss coined the term ambiguous loss in the 1970s and is the foremost expert on the topic. She’s captured her work in numerous books, including the widely acclaimed Ambiguous Loss: Learning to Live with Unresolved Grief. And she’s currently working on a new book about ambiguous loss in the context of the 2020 pandemic. Dr. Boss is joining us by phone from her home in Minnesota. Welcome to Mind of State, Dr. Boss, thanks for joining us.

PAULINE: You’re welcome. My pleasure.

JONATHAN: The topic of ambiguous loss is is rich with meaning and rich with significance at this moment. And I I think it’s important for us to start at the beginning, which is how do you define ambiguous loss?

PAULINE: Well, it has a simple definition. It’s simply an unclear loss that has no verification. There’s no death certificate. There’s no evidence of a body. There’s, there’s no proof. And so it’s an unclear loss. An abstract loss. Uh, there are two different kinds. The first is physical. That’s the first one I studied in the 1970s with families of soldiers missing in action in Vietnam. Um, so they were physically missing, but kept psychologically present because the families didn’t know if they were coming back or not. And sometimes they did. And most of the time they did not. Um, and the second kind of ambiguous loss which I studied in the 90s was on families where a member had Alzheimer’s disease. So they were physically present, but psychologically absent because of the dementia. And so this just kind of uncanny loss where there’s a disconnect between knowing and not knowing is more common than we think. The one thing about this theory is that people tend to almost immediately plug in their own ambiguous loss. And most of the time, they’re absolutely right.

JONATHAN: If I were to just ask you to clarify, then. So ambiguous loss is that circumstances where we’re unable to have closure?

PAULINE: The answer to that is yes, but I’m going to add a caveat. I don’t like the word closure anymore. I I think it’s uh very cruel with people who have lost someone to talk about it because we like to remember the people we’ve lost. We don’t really close the door on it, but it’s a handy word that unfortunately is used too much. So I would rather say it this way. Ambiguous loss is a loss that has no possibility of resolution.

JONATHAN: I like that. Thank you.

BETTY: And where we sit today, Dr. Boss, we thought about you and an ambiguous loss with everything that’s going on right now.

PAULINE: There are many ambiguous losses right now. It’s overwhelming. First of all, we’re facing an enemy and we can’t see it. We as yet don’t know enough about it to control it. So we’ve lost control over our own destiny right now. We’ve lost, we’ve lost trust in the world in a sense, because even sometimes it’s the people who are supposed to be advising us, leading us, aren’t. And so we’re in a tailspin right now about what to do and who to trust. So that’s loss of trust in the world, loss of faith in having our everyday connections, loss of gathering with the people we love, loss of going to big events like football or like concerts. Sometimes the losses are not ambiguous, by the way. Um, and that would be loss of finances or loss of your house or something tangible. Um, but many of the losses are more abstract, more ambiguous.

BETTY: And in that way, the ambiguity, that is something that we thought in the spring that the pandemic and the circumstances that had to flow from that were temporary and now they’re not. We don’t know when exactly this is going to end.

PAULINE: And that that’s ambiguous, too.

BETTY: Exactly. And so how do you in your research and work with people around ambiguous loss in the many decades that you’ve worked in this field, help people deal with the ambiguity and the uncertainty?

PAULINE: Well, there are ways to do that. But let me preface it by saying that the United States is particularly a mastery-oriented culture whereby we feel that the world is, what they call, a just and fair place, that if we work hard enough, we can solve anything. Well, now we have a case where we can’t solve it as of yet, and we’re very anxious about that. The uncertainty is driving people crazy. Um, so some cultures are less mastery-oriented than we are and they will, how can I say, roll with the waves more easily than we might do. Um, so because of our culture that wants to solve problems, we’ll put a man on the moon, has put a rover on Mars, et cetera, et cetera. We’re very good at that. And I don’t want to denigrate that at all, but when you’re faced, when we’re faced, with a problem that has no solution, I think we are particularly inept at dealing with it because of our culture.

JONATHAN: It’s a fascinating conflict, a fascinating tension, that you’re raising here. I mean, first of all, there are things that we can do, right? We might not have a vaccine, but we can wear masks.


JONATHAN: We can social distance. And I wonder, how do we tend to our daily life while we’re grappling with this ambiguity?

PAULINE: Well, two things. First, I think you have to find something you can control because being in control of our own destiny is essentially associated with sound mental health. We have to be able to control something, so we can control our external life right now. So we need to control something. And perhaps that’s why we heard so many people were baking bread or uh doing meditation or doing physical exercise or writing or something. They’re cooking together as a family because there’s a finality to that. You know, you work for a couple hours and you have a beautiful outcome, a tasty outcome, or you have a better body for what you’ve been doing. So we have to find something small that you can control. And of course, um meditation is, is in our control. And since you can’t control the outside world right now, you can control your breathing and your, your inner self. Do some yoga, for example.

And the second thing is that we have to change our way of thinking. This is very, so to speak, un-American, because I don’t think we’ve been trained to do this. I’ve learned this primarily from Native Americans in northern Minnesota and from my Asian colleagues. And that is you can do more “both and” thinking. You can find the middle ground. I don’t use the term dialectical thinking with people I work with, but really it has its roots in that. So you think about the situation, the stressor, that’s facing you at the time in a non-binary way. We say something like this is terrible. This is both terrible and we may grow from it. This is both a terrible time in our history and we may get stronger for it. Or you could say it more present time. This is terrible. I can’t go out. I can’t see my family. And we can gather together on Zoom and other ways. So that non-binary way of thinking will lower stress when you’re stuck, when you’re stuck with an uncertainty and ambiguity. And when you can’t at the moment change the situation you’re facing.

BETTY: Dr. Boss, what you’re talking about is something I see a lot clinically with my patients. I’m working with a lot of trauma survivors, actually. And we often talk about the externals being um things you cannot control. And what we can control is our internal selves. That’s what we have jurisdiction over. And what you say about the non-binary way of thinking causes me to think a lot about what is happening in politics and and our thinking, which is very um polarized right now.


BETTY: The binary freezes us. And so this seems to not only apply to how we survive a pandemic, but also how we survive our current state of politics. I I wonder if, you know, lowering of stress might open our minds a little bit like looking at the silver lining.

PAULINE: I agree with you and I think the answer is yes. We have to find a middle ground. Um if I can talk about ambiguous loss, before I dealt with that, people were saying people are either dead or alive. They can’t be both. Uh people are either here or gone. They can’t be both. Well, yeah, they can, actually, when there’s no proof of one thing or the other. And so in the mind’s eye, they’re, they are both and.

And so when we have the politics of today are uh some are saying things are either good or bad. You either, and here’s the one I like to focus on, you either win or you lose. You can’t be both. Certainly regarding human relationships, that’s a very dysfunctional way of thinking. People are absent and present at the same time in our lives all the time. Uh and in everyday life, as well as more extreme and catastrophic situations, people are never a hundred percent present or a hundred percent absent. Um, and so giving it this extreme binary is very dysfunctional in human relationships, but I believe it’s also dysfunctional in community and national relationships as well.

JONATHAN: How do we make sense of the polarized nature of the response to pandemic, where some are uh embracing a full lockdown, social isolation, advocating masks, and shaming people if they don’t wear a mask? Uh and yet others are expressing an extreme response in the opposite direction, saying masks are authoritative tyranny that are getting in the way of my ability to live my free life. It it seems like we’re not embracing the, the “yes and” that you’re suggesting.

PAULINE: No, they aren’t. The people who have that absolute rigid feeling about masks are, are seeing one thing. They’re seeing their liberty, their right to liberty and freedom, which, by the way, I I value that. But when you have an outside predator, as we have now, the virus, which could harm so many people, we need to think not only of ourselves, but how what we do might harm our neighbor or the other person in our household. Uh, so that takes a more mature way of thinking. Um or you could call it something else, some more empathic way of thinking of, that you’re not just thinking about my freedom, my way. I’m going to do it my way, others be damned. Versus saying, I don’t like to do this. I don’t even feel good in a mask. I don’t like to give up my freedom to to breathe freely outdoors and to do what I want, but I will pay attention to it because I don’t want to harm my other family members and my neighbors. Some people haven’t got there yet.

BETTY: This is something that is so curious to me uh, Pauline, because there’s something that I feel like when people feel that there’s only one way to think about something, that it’s cutting something off. This is this is my sort of psychoanalytic method.

PAULINE: It’s a zero sum game.

BETTY: Yeah, it’s a zero sum game that there’s no other options. But there’s something that that’s sort of being avoided that, you know, in some senses death is being avoided because I’m gonna live. I’m gonna I’m gonna live forever, maybe. I don’t need a mask. This this virus isn’t going to defeat me, as some people protested on state capitals earlier in the year. Um and you’ve said, quote, “We are a nation founded on unresolved grief. As a result, we don’t like to talk about death and we don’t know for sure like to talk about ambiguous loss.” So I there’s something to this mask wearing and the avoidance of it in some people, the avoidance of death itself, that might be echoing or nuanced and a shadow of this year and I wonder if if you’re seeing that in this and if you can talk about a little bit how we are a nation founded on unresolved grief.

PAULINE: Well, I think you’re right. It’s really a denial of loss. It’s a denial of the possibility of loss. It’s the denial of death, which Becker wrote about a long time ago. Yes, I have written that. And I do still believe that we are a nation founded on unresolved grief. Um I got that idea first from Drew Gilpin Faust, who wrote the book um about the Republic of Suffering, in which she states that our nation is founded on the suffering of unresolved loss from the Civil War. I agree with her and I would go further than that and say it’s not just the Civil War. It’s, it’s what we did to the Native Americans when we first came to this land, uprooted them, if not try to obliterate them. It’s what we have done to slave families who were separated on the selling block, one from another.

And then if I can go further, we’re a nation of immigrants who have been separated from family members across the seas. And this was before there were communication possibilities and airplanes to go back and forth so that there is much unresolved loss um in this nation that is never talked about except during COVID now. And we could go into why that might have happened during this year of lockdown. Uh suddenly it comes to the forefront um with George Floyd’s killing and what happened here in Minneapolis. And it may be because we’ve been less distracted, having to stay at home all the time, that we suddenly are paying attention. I would confess to myself, I was not aware of the unresolved losses that are coming to the fore right now. Black lives do matter. But it’s clear that they haven’t mattered. And there’s been poverty that we haven’t paid attention to. I’ve been astounded by how many people don’t have health care and so on.

So we’re a nation that doesn’t want to pay attention to loss. We like winners. We like to pay attention to winners. Even our TV shows are often about the upper middle class. Downton Abbey, you know, how we love to see all those jewels and things. That’s not how people live in this country now. And unfortunately, too many are living in poverty and without just the basic needs. And certainly uh Black Lives Matter is something that finally, I think has been noticed as something that has to change.

BETTY: I’m so glad that you mentioned the results or the impact of um our unresolved relationship to slavery and what Drew Faust talked about with the Civil War, um the unresolved traumas and also the unacknowledged traumas of of people leaving their own traumas in homelands that forced them here or the trauma of just leaving home and having to reestablish themselves in a wholly new place.

PAULINE: And it was traumatic. Did you know that the Irish girls who left to come and be maids in um in New York and other cities, they were given funerals before they left.


PAULINE: And they were at their own funerals.



PAULINE: And they were told not to come back because it was too painful to say goodbye again. So, ambiguous loss is often a traumatic loss. The trauma surrounds it. And so you have trauma plus, plus uncertainty and ambiguity, which is immensely stressful for people. It immobilizes them.

BETTY: Yes. And so, you know, traumas echo or bring forth traumas. It’s so interesting to even look back a few months of uh quarantine here in the United States brought forth a massive reaction to the George Floyd murder and this big referendum nationwide and globally on um Black Lives Matter as a result. And and all of the pressures, as you say, we were home uh with more focus on what’s going on and more direct impact because we were suffering in our own ways, whether or not in in the same at the same pitch. And now that we are all, sort of, destabilized like this, it seems like there’s also an opportunity here.

PAULINE: Yes, I would add, in chaos there is opportunity. Before change can happen things have to shake up. Boy, are they shaking up right now. Um and I don’t, I’m an optimist, I don’t see that as terrible, although it’s terrible if people are dying and being killed, that that’s tragic. But having things unstable for a while means that change is afoot. Change is coming and hopefully it’s change for the better.

JONATHAN: So change brings to my mind the notion of the election uh November we’re going to have the 2020 presidential election, arguably the most important election uh in our in our lifetimes. And oftentimes, we like to think of elections as it there’s there’s a binary choice here. Right? It’s either change or more of the same. Um clearly, we’re in such a tumultuous moment., but how do the political leaders grapple with ambiguous loss in a world where politics is about the binary? It’s about the black and white. It’s about the zero sum game.

PAULINE: I don’t know that it is. Certainly with our accountants and our banks, we want the binary. There are many places we want the binary. Um in politics they always say, you know, you’re either blue or red or you’re this or that. But in the end, compromise is the only thing that makes the government work. They have to find the middle ground. And what we see now is they have not. And that brings about a stalemate, immobilization. So it seems to me that, yes, when we go into the voting booth, we check one box or another. That’s true. That’s binary. But when people legislate, when people govern, when people lead, when we parent our children, when we run a household, uh things are never black and, well, rarely. Let me let me edit that. Things are rarely black and white. You have to make decisions that are in the gray area and sometimes you see the good and the bad in the same location.

JONATHAN: Right. So politics is the is the the art of the compromise. Right. But in the, but in the bumper sticker, in the slogan, it’s either, uh you know, Black Lives Matter or blue lives matter. So the our political discourse, it drives us to a binary, even if ultimately good and smart and deft politicians have to have to get us to compromise. I I guess I wonder how politicians, how elected officials, as individuals process ambiguous loss. And how does it translate to their ability or inability to lead with clarity?

PAULINE: You know, the first person I voted for was Eisenhower. And I grew up as a child during the Roosevelt era. Um, and, you know, with Mr. Roosevelt, um if you read about his life, he had one way of thinking, but his wife, who was not a quiet woman, had another way of thinking. And you get the idea that the binary was uh softened because of that kind of interaction. Now, bringing it up to today or any time in more modern history, I like to look at politicians to see their humanity. Is it there? Can they shed a tear? Can they show empathy? Have they had personal experiences that have knocked them around a bit? And have they survived? How have they survived? Have they gotten harder or have they gotten uh more open to differences?

And I don’t want to name names, but we can see the differences in the politicians today about how they live their own lives. And I find that an extraordinary valuable piece of information for how they will lead. Um and if they have had tragedies and it hardened them, then they will be more um binary thinkers, more black and white, more absolute. This is I win lose. If if they have had tragedy, had trauma, and somehow have found resilience out of it, then they’ll be really good leaders because they’ve been they’ve been through it. They know what suffering is. And so when they see it, they won’t just turn turn their head away from it. A lot of our people are suffering. And our leaders have got to start seeing that.

JONATHAN: I think they will. I think they do. Um in my observation, I think that the compassion and the empathy that that we’re hearing from some elected officials and some would be elected officials um is getting a response from the American public that indicates that there’s a need, that there’s a yearning, for that sort of compassion, that that that empathy.

PAULINE: Absolutely. A hunger for it. A hunger for it. And and it must be because absolutely, governing is is not just managing budgets and rebuilding roads and things like that. It’s it’s making life better for people. It’s a human task uh for humanity to improve it. And and so you have to have that part.

BETTY: In terms of the losses that we may or may not see our politicians expressing in the situation that all of us face. Be it the global pandemic, the economic crisis, or the referendum on racial injustice. There seems to be even before March in the United States, this question about change in the Make America Great Again. And there is this commentary underneath that that seems to say we are different now. We want to go back to the way we were before or the greatness we had before. And I just want to see if you have any thoughts on that in terms of this denial of loss. How how you see that is being addressed in Make America Great Again.

PAULINE: For one thing, I I love America. My father was an immigrant and he flew the American flag every day of his life in front of the house. He came from Switzerland um in the 1920s and never was able to go back

BETTY: Oh wow.

PAULINE: because of the Depression. So he was an immigrant by default, but such a patriot. Uh and he taught us that as well. But but I feel that America is a democracy and a democracy never reaches 100 percent perfection. It’s a work in progress. And so um we need to be careful about saying things like make America great again. And I think it was both always great and always imperfect. Again, both and, but we need to change. And in fact, I believe we’re in a paradigm shift right now, which is very chaotic and and painful and traumatic. And it’s it’s being exacerbated by COVID, by the pandemic and all the other things that have surfaced during this pandemic. The um Black Lives Matter issue, the poverty issue, the lack of health care issue, the economic crisis, the systemic racism that has caused many inequities in our systems. So suddenly we’re in uh chaos and a mess. But that again, I think I said earlier, is what happens in a paradigm shift. And you can’t be thinking in binaries that this is good or bad. It’s it’s bad because there are some deaths. There is some suffering. Children are not getting enough food. It is good because it may bring about change and change was needed. But first, we have to understand why we have this denial of death and loss before I think any good change will happen. And this is a country that’s had its head in the sand about loss, about trauma, about unresolved losses. Um and we need to face them and do some reconciliation about them. We need to um acknowledge those those losses from long, long ago.

JONATHAN: It sounds like what you’re saying is that, look, we’ve got a a multigenerational grappling with ambiguous loss and and that we were founded, in fact, uh in grief, so.

PAULINE: That’s right. Unresolved grief.

JONATHAN: Unresolved grief. Do you think that ambiguous loss is sort of baked into the American DNA? It was written in the founding documents that we are in pursuit of a more perfect union. Right. We we we recognize that we are never fully resolved.

PAULINE: That’s right.

JONATHAN: And so is it is it baked into our DNA? And if so, seeking to exert control over our lives, how do we how do we wrestle with something that is part of our DNA?

PAULINE: Well, I think we have to both value and acknowledge it, that it may need to change now and then. Our reaction to this um constitution that we have, which I think is unbelievably wonderful. We have to change our reaction to it, our interpretation, every now and then. Uh and mostly we’ve been sailing along for quite a while. We had a paradigm shift at World War Two. We had a paradigm shift in the 60s. And with the women’s movement, we have some paradigm shifts that perk up in the turn of the century and then again in the 60s, 70s um and maybe now regarding the Me Too movement. So we have to be more acknowledging of the need for change on all these different fronts um and come together as a community, as a nation, instead of always seeing what it is for me. Um yes, our Constitution is, I believe, the only one based on the individual. Uh and and, yes, I I like that part that we are big on individualism here, but we also need to balance it out with paying attention to our neighbor.

BETTY: Dr. Boss, how would you say we need to reckon with our losses in order to be more collective? How can we own the head in the sand that you spoke about earlier? It it can uh impact itself, meaning the more you stick your head in the sand, the more you don’t want to pull it out.

PAULINE: That’s right.

BETTY: However, this is a time where it seems like we can’t, in so many of the facets of what’s going on today, from pandemic to economic crisis to referendum on racial injustice. This is telling us something, it’s reflecting us something back. And it seems accurate to say that it’s telling us we have to deal with our losses and we have to deal with the things that we we lose. We’re not just winners, that we’re not a binary, uh we cannot be a binary state. No state can. So how how do we deal with what’s been cut off for so long?

PAULINE: I think we have to start at home. I think we have to start with ourselves and review our own losses. Um clinically sometimes I use symbols like river rocks, little stones that I’ve collected, and the person will put them on the floor to represent the losses they have had since they can first remember. And this these would be the losses that really stick with them. And sometimes that line of pebbles and stones gets really long. We have to acknowledge the losses we have had since childhood that have shaped us, and many of those are unresolved. Uh, and by the way, I’ve found out that for some people, the loss of a pet belongs in that string of losses as well.

BETTY: Oh, yes,

PAULINE: It could. It could also be the loss of a home. It could be loss of something abstract that you loved. Uh the key word for uh losses, I think, that really matter to us, is that they really meant a lot to you. So everybody should do that. They should face their own losses and then talk about them with their their intimates, their either their family or friends, who whomever is important to them, share them with someone else. Don’t keep them to yourself or a therapist. And and try to resolve your own losses so that they don’t impinge on your feeling about the larger community, um because that’s what’s stuck in all of us, our own unresolved losses. And so we don’t see it, certainly don’t see it on a larger scale than if we can’t see it on our personal scale.

JONATHAN: Do Do you think that that our political leaders are capable of leading us on that exploration, on leading us through that reckoning and that reconciliation with loss.

PAULINE: Well that may be above my my expertise just to answer that. I think the the leaders we have who have done that reckoning in their own lives and, frequently if you read their books and so on, you can tell who has and who hasn’t. If they haven’t done that kind of reckoning about their own personal losses and have dealt with them, I don’t mean, by the way, closure. I don’t believe in closure. Uh that they have reckoned with it and acknowledge their own losses and their feelings about it and are able to hold the both and in their mind. Their my loved one is gone, but I still remember them. Um that they can carry on their life without being stuck in and uh, without having that chip on their shoulder. Then I think those are the leaders that can bring us forward. Um so I guess I’m what I’m saying is read their book and watch watch their movements, watch how they interact with people. Um and you will see who the leaders are who can take us out of this thicket right now that we’re in. There has been great loss. We just see in the papers every day how much loss there is. And the numbers are going up worldwide and also um in the United States. And, you know, the financial losses, the losses of jobs, the losses of business, the losses of all of these things are just monumental. So we need a leader who understands loss.

JONATHAN: An empathetic leader for sure.


BETTY: One thing that I would say about this, Jonathan, is that we as citizens can ask this of ourselves to reckon with loss and ask this of our politicians, as people, to see if they can reckon with their own losses and and help us reckon with ours as a society.

PAULINE: Yes, it has to start at the bottom.

BETTY: And and that makes sense. It seems doable. Because so much of what I see in in the clinical room is that people feel overwhelmed with the monumental nature of of what they don’t have control over.

PAULINE: Right. Right.

BETTY: And so one last question, Dr. Boss, is I I hear from patients that they don’t want to reckon with the loss because it’s so painful.

PAULINE: It is painful.

BETTY: Yeah. The and yet what I know and hear from you is that when you talk to somebody about your losses, you don’t isolate them. You open them up. And so therefore, your burden is shared.

PAULINE: That’s right.

BETTY: And so for those listening who really are grappling with loss, don’t want to turn to them, find them severely painful. What would you say is the function of reckoning with loss? Does it put it to rest?


BETTY: Does it give it some space? Does it.

PAULINE: It doesn’t put it to rest. The research shows now that um there will be ups and downs that you will learn to live with loss. You don’t get over it. There is no closure. There is no ending to it. So what you’re hoping to do, if I can use um a less therapeutic word, you’re learning to manage the pain of loss over time and that now and then it’ll still rear its painful suffering. Uh let’s say there’s an anniversary or there’s, if you lost a child, a time when they would have graduated or in their class is all together and they’re not there. Um those kinds of things bring back pain again, and that is normal grief. So the other thing the public does not know is what’s normal and what’s abnormal. We cannot pathologize sadness and grief. Um there’s a big difference between sadness and depression, and not all grief is depression.The minority of people who are grieving are depressed in a clinical sense. The majority of people are sad. And the intervention, the treatment for sadness, is human connection. So you need to tell your story to someone else. It could be a friend, a family member, or a therapist, or you could write it. Uh you need to tell your story to someone else. Your story of loss. Painful it that it is. It is more painful to not tell your story.

JONATHAN: And human connection in this time of COVID with social distance is all the more challenging. But as we have shown here, whether it’s over Zoom or phone or uh or with masks and at social distance, we can still connect and we can still have conversations and we can still share. Dr. Boss, thank you so much for joining us. It’s been a pleasure. We’ve learned a lot and I hope our listeners have too.

PAULINE: Thank you. It was my pleasure too.


JONATHAN: Thanks for joining us on this episode of Mind of State. And thanks again to our guest, Dr. Pauline Boss, whose forthcoming book will likely be titled Ambiguous Loss and the 2020 Pandemic. You can find out more about her work at www.ambiguousloss.com.

BETTY: If you like this episode, please subscribe and review us on Apple podcast or wherever you get your podcasts. You can find out what we’re up to by following Mind of State on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at Mind of State Pod, our website is MindofState.com.

JONATHAN: Mind of State is produced by Alletta Cooper and Jenny Woodward. Special thanks to our co-founder, Thomas Singer. Our theme song is composed by Joel Goodman, courtesy of Oovra. I’m Jonathan Kopp.

BETTY: And I’m Betty Teng. Join us next time on Mind of State.