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The role of spirituality in the transition through midlife : a narrative study Paproski, Donna Louise

Abstract

This study explores the role of spirituality in the transition through midlife. Using narrative research methodology, in-depth tape-recorded interviews were conducted with ten self-selected adults between the ages of 47 and 63 who felt spirituality had played an important role in their transition through mid-life. Of the seven women and three men who participated, nine were Caucasian and one was Asian. Four participants were not adherents of a recognized religious faith, while the other six reported an affiliation with Eastern, middle-Eastern, or Western faiths. Of this well-educated, middle to upper income sample, four participants were married with children, three were single, and three were divorced. Tape-recorded interview transcriptions were used to develop first person narrative accounts of the role spirituality in the transition through midlife. These accounts were validated by the participants. Further analysis of the validated narratives yielded ten common elements. The first four elements indicated a significant role for spirituality in the developmental process of midlife, by helping the participants to cope with losses and challenges, revise values and identity, and find spiritual meaning. The next six elements, which suggest an expanded definition of spirituality, described the ongoing importance of spirituality in the lives of the participants. The common elements and findings are discussed in light of current theory and research on midlife, as well as psychological perspectives on spirituality.

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