Lost and Unfound – The Impact of Ambiguous Loss on Secure Attachments

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Brosch, Emmalee
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This paper explored a clinical issue on the topic of ambiguous loss and its impact on secure attachment. This project was conducted to raise awareness about the long-term implications of ambiguous loss on children as there was significant gaps in literature about its impacts. The guiding research question was, "what is the impact of ambiguous loss on youth who have been removed from their primary caregivers?" To gather information key search terms were utilized which then allowed for themes to emerge. The information was then sifted through and all relevant information was included within the thematic analysis and any other information was placed in exclusion criteria. Results found that, if left unaddressed, ambiguous loss can lead to feelings of loneliness, shame, real or perceived abandonment, as well as stigma. The loss can also lead to development of cognitive behavioral concerns such as anxiety, depression, social withdrawal, and long-term grief symptoms. The implications of this research are to enhance compassion and empathy to the effected demographic and to gain a better understanding of the topic of ambiguous loss and its impacts. Recommendations for future research include evaluating the impacts of ambiguous loss cross-culturally as well as at different developmental stages of life.
ambiguous loss , youth , primary caregivers , attachment , grief
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States , openAccess