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From Child to Elder

Personal Transformation in Becoming an Orphan at Midlife


Alan Pope

From Child to Elder explores the personal growth that can arise when a middle-aged adult loses his or her last living parent. Based on an empirical phenomenological study, this book details the complex ways in which the adult orphan’s ongoing relationship to the deceased parents, combined with the unique meanings of the loss, leads to a deepening of individual autonomy and spiritual awakening. Confrontation with mortality and fundamental aloneness promotes, among other things, an increased sense of existential responsibility toward self and others as the adult orphan psychologically assumes its new role as an elder. These and many other themes are structured into an integrated whole and amplified through developmental, existential, and Jungian perspectives. The result is a compelling portrait of the processes by which the death of one’s parents can accelerate psychospiritual development.