Theses Doctoral

Faith and Transitions in a Community of Middle-Aged Women

Alcid, Grace Allas

Not a lot of research has been done on the middle age years despite this being a pivotal time for adults. Women at this stage of their lives undergo many changes such as perimenopause to complete menopause, having to take care of aging parents, and losing a spouse. Additionally, women tend to seek other women for help and support and form a community that is bound by common concerns and experiences.

This qualitative case study explored how a group of middle-aged women experienced life changing events and how their faith and community enabled them to overcome the challenges those incidents brought to their lives. This study also looked into other factors that contributed to their being able to confront and overcome the challenges from those experiences
Thirteen women from one faith community in Manila, Philippines were interviewed individually to find answers to the following research questions:

1. How do middle-aged women describe the life-changing event they have experienced?
2. What approach(es) do middle-aged women take when they are undergoing a life changing event so they can cope with the situation they are experiencing?
3. In what ways does the faith community help the women in the group cope with the life changing event?
4. What other factors may influence these women’s ability to copy with the life changing events they face?

Another five women from a different faith community were engaged in a focus group discussion to corroborate the following findings from the individual interviews:

1. Unanticipated events were often challenging and devastating and had a major impact on the lives of these middle-aged women. Additionally, those events did not happen in isolation but, rather, led to other events that were even more lifechanging.
2. When confronted with an unexpected, life-changing event, these middle-aged women were faced with a myriad of feelings and emotions that they examined, evaluated and shared with people they trusted. They also handled their own situation by seeking help from others.
3. Support was a critical element in the ability of these middle-aged women to confront and overcome a devastating transition event. Their faith community offered various types of support during most of the events.
4. The faith of middle-aged women was a significant factor in confronting and overcoming those unexpected events. The women believed their faith made them stronger and made them determined to prevail over the circumstances of the event.

This study concluded the following:

1. Middle-aged women go through a variety of highly impactful transitions and their reactions to the event vary from one woman to another depending on the context in which it occurs and the impact on the woman’s life. The manner in which a woman in this age range adapts to the transition event will predict how they are able to cope with the impact of the event on their lives.
2. Support provided by the network built by a woman over her lifetime is essential in confronting and overcoming challenges posed by a transition event. Support can come in different forms and is appreciated by the women. That support enables them to confront, overcome and adapt to the transition event.
3. The women’s religious beliefs are critical to recovery and growth of these middle-aged women and sustain them as they are adapting to their transition events.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Organization and Leadership
Thesis Advisors
Marsick, Victoria J.
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
May 31, 2023