The Empty Seat

Therapist Pauline Boss on how to cope when a loved one is gone or not fully there for the holidays

Holiday gatherings can act as glue to hold families together, but some people we love may not be able to pull up a chair at the table this year--or maybe ever. Others are only partially present. "Ambiguous loss" is the term coined by family therapist Pauline Boss of the University of Minnesota to describe the problem of having a loved one absent but not clearly dead--missing in war or a natural disaster--or only a limited presence because of Alzheimer's or an emotional issue. In an interview with TIME, Boss, whose new book for therapists, Loss, Trauma, and Resilience, is due in 2006,...

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