There are different types of ambiguous losses, but all of them are somehow unresolved or unclear.
One example of ambiguous loss is when a friend or family member is physically present but cognitively or emotionally unavailable. This could include having a loved one who has dementia, or who is unavailable due to addiction or mental illness. Our loved one may be present, but we cannot access them fully or at all.
Another type of ambiguous loss is when a loved one is absent, but psychologically present. This can happen when we are unclear about their whereabouts or well being. The families of missing persons, for example, are left wondering about the fate of their loved ones, and many hold on to some small hope that their family member might somehow return. Situations such as adoption or divorce can also fall into this category. The child placed for adoption or the departed parent might be absent but yearned for with an underlying hope for a reunion.
With ambiguous loss, there is uncertainty and a lack of closure. Grief can become complicated or suspended due to the lack of resolution or clarity of the loss.