Spirituality and Older Women: The Journey Home to Self
Pp. 174-197 (24)
Holly Nelson-Becker and M. Carlean Gilbert
The self unfolds through a life long journey of becoming and making
meaning. This chapter elucidates the role of spirituality in older women’s lives. First it
sets the context for the role of religion, addressing demographics and research on
gender and faith. The distinction between spirituality and religion is discussed.
Spiritual struggle and suffering are identified as normative experiences. In a section on
theory and models, feminism, gerotranscendence, and narrative are described as they
relate to spirituality. Three modern writers and one research participant provide
examples of the variation that may occur on a spiritual path. Discussion provides
further elaboration and guidance to mental health professionals who want to address
and support the spiritual lives of women. Aging invites women to come alive in new
ways as they honor the journey home to their authentic self, a self that is always larger
than what they can dream.
Older women, Religion, Spirituality.
School of Social Work, Loyola University Chicago, USA.