Wetterlings set example for dealing with ambiguous grief

Trevor Wetterling hugs his mother.
Trevor Wetterling hugs his mother after she spoke at the press conference.
Courtney Perry for MPR News

Jacob Wetterling was kidnapped in 1989, and for nearly 27 years, his family held out hope he was alive. That hope was shattered when Jacob's remains were found last week.

After a court hearing where Danny Heinrich admitted that he abducted, sexually abused and then killed Jacob, Patty Wetterling said, "For us, Jacob was alive, until we — until we found him."

For nearly three decades, Dr. Pauline Boss said the Wetterling family was essentially living in limbo with their grief, a condition she calls ambiguous loss. Boss is professor emeritus at University of Minnesota and author of "Ambiguous Loss: Learning to Live with Unresolved Grief." She talked with Tom Crann about how people learn to cope with missing loved ones.

Create a More Connected Minnesota

MPR News is your trusted resource for the news you need. With your support, MPR News brings accessible, courageous journalism and authentic conversation to everyone - free of paywalls and barriers. Your gift makes a difference.