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Spiritual and religious struggles emerge in times where life meaning is unclear, has changed or is challenged. Resilience has been addressed in terms of psychological, social, emotional and physical capacity or competence related to struggle. However, there is a relatively sparse literature defining and addressing spiritual resilience, both what it is and how it is demonstrated. This is especially true of the oppressive and marginalised experiences of diverse older persons. This paper asks how older persons have responded to life challenge and spiritual struggle through spiritually resilient responses. It provides a foundation for the discussion of spiritual resilience in older people through examples from two different community studies: 55 LGBQ older dyads across several nations, and 75 older Black and Jewish persons residing in Chicago, IL. The first study highlights same-sex couples, discussing the complex relationship of sexuality and religion and how resilience is achieved. The second study addresses religious/spiritual struggle using a life course perspective to note where spiritual resilience has been an outcome. Spiritual resilience is at the heart of posttraumatic and stress-related growth and often emerges through a process of lived transformation leading to greater self-awareness and self-understanding in a revised construction of identity.


Author Posting © The Authors, 2020. This article is posted here by permission of The Authors for personal use, not for redistribution. The article was published in Religion, Volume 11, Issue 9, August 2020,

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