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Prof. Emeritus Boss publishes book on dementia, caregiving, ambiguous loss

boss.jpgIn August 2011, Pauline Boss, professor emeritus of Family Social Science, published "Loving Someone Who Has Dementia: How to Find Hope While Dealing with Stress and Grief," a resource for family members and caregivers, and her third book on the subject of ambiguous loss.

"This book is for anyone who cares for somebody with dementia," said Boss. "I worked hard not to pathologize caregivers. There is a difference between being depressed, which is pathological, and being sad, which is a normal part of this experience. Caregiving can be a long and sometimes traumatic process."

Boss' first book, Ambiguous Loss, named the experience and laid out the theory behind it. Her second book, Loss, Trauma and Resilience - Training for Professionals, was published in 2009 and was made to facilitate on-site training for care professionals and those who work with individuals suffering from dementia and their families. Boss found the demand for training in ambiguous loss theory was too great for her to personally attend to, which prompted the writing of the book.

For her third and most recent book, Boss wanted to be able to make something that family members could find useful while experiencing times of high stress. "The writing is accessible, but is all grounded in research. It is fine if you only want to read snippets here and there when you have the time." The book does not address how to give care, but looks at relationships and the psychological journey of caregiving, so caregivers can stay strong despite illness and relationships which have been changed or compromised.

Boss' work with ambiguous loss and family members of World Trade Center workers who were killed in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, found her invited back to the site for the memorial services to commemorate the tenth anniversary.

"My heart is with the working people of 9/11," said Boss. "The cooks, the cleaners, the elevator operators, the people who made the towers work. They were kind of invisible in the coverage of the attacks, and much more attention went to people in uniform. They and their families represented a multitude of faiths and nationalities."

Shortly after the attacks in 2001, Boss and several Family Social Science graduate students flew to New York City and began working with families, using a family meeting model for the physically missing that was developed with late Professor Wayne Caron.
Boss co-authored "Healing Loss, Ambiguity, and Trauma: A Community-Based Intervention with Families of Union Workers Missing After the 9/11 Attack in New York City," published in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy in October of 2003, remains one of the journal's most accessed articles.

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