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While news of Osama Bin Laden's death has brought jubilation to many Americans, family members of those who died in the 9/11 attacks are likely to experience mixed emotions, says U expert Pauline Boss.

Osama Bin Laden's death likely brings mixed emotions for people who lost loved ones in 9/11 attacks, University of Minnesota expert says

May 2, 2011

While news of Osama Bin Laden's death has brought jubilation to many Americans, family members of those who died in the 9/11 attacks are likely to experience mixed emotions. A University of Minnesota expert who can speak about the myth of closure is:

Pauline Boss, professor emeritus in the College of Education and Human Development's department of family social sciences

People should be mindful that family members of those lost on 9/11 will have varied reactions and emotions associated with this news, says Boss, author of "Ambiguous Loss: Learning to Live with Unresolved Grief." Ambiguous loss is the unresolved grief people experience when there is no body to bury. After 9/11, Boss, along with others from the U of M, was called to New York on numerous occasions to help family members of the missing cope and live with unresolved grief.

During news reports this morning, Boss listened as one person talked of how Osama Bin Laden's killing "ends our long national nightmare."

"In reality, it doesn't end the pain for the families who lost loved ones," Boss says. "Closure is a myth for them. There may be justice but it doesn't end the pain."

This kind of justice might ease the pain, Boss says, drawing from reports of family members in other cases where justice was meted out -- such as the execution of Timothy McVeigh for the Oklahoma City bombing.

"It does not bring the relief family members of victims may have hoped for. Such justice feels right for the rest of us and for the nation," Boss says. "But for those who were directly affected with loss on 9/11, they may have mixed emotions. We need to keep that in mind. There is no such thing as closure for them. We should understand if they do not share in the jubilance."

Boss's most recent book, "Loss, Trauma, and Resilience" presents six therapeutic guidelines for treatment and intervention when loss is complicated by ambiguity.

To interview Boss, contact Patty Mattern, University News Service, at mattern@umn.edu or (612) 624-2801.

Expert Alert is a service provided by the University News Service. Delivered regularly, Expert Alert is designed to connect university experts to today's breaking news and current events. For an archive and other useful media services, visit umn.edu/news. Views expressed by experts do not represent the views of the University of Minnesota.

Tags: College of Education and Human Development

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