Theoretical Aspects of the Study of the Transformational Potential of Parental Loss for Middle-Aged Adults

The loss of the last of the parents is an understudied and underestimated phenomenon in Ukrainian psychological science in terms of the development of middle-aged adults. The purpose of the study: to identify the role of the loss of both parents in the personal transformation of the adult. To achieve this purpose, the methods of theoretical knowledge were applied: analysis, generalisation, systematization, and interpretation. The methodological framework of the study was formed by the idea of middle age as a time of deep self-cognition, the unification of opposing tendencies, the reaching of mature responsibility, and theoretical ideas of post-traumatic growth. To achieve this purpose, the methods of theoretical cognition were applied: analysis, generalisation, systematization, and interpretation. It was found that the death of the last living parent leads to changes in identity, reassessment of life, relationships, to the use of methods of activity that were previously unavailable. It has been determined that middle-age orphanhood activates specific mechanisms of personality development: loss of existential security (“I am face to face with the world”), actualisation of the fear of death (“I will be the next”). As a result, mature responsibility is born, the fact of the inevitability of personal death is accepted. None of the other normative-age factors have such a strong transformational potential. The most important mediating factor of changes in the adult’s personality is the completeness/incompleteness of the child’s parental relationship with the deceased parents. Incomplete child-parent relationship becomes a source of personal trauma and at the same time contains a powerful resource of personal transformations. The prospect of further study of the long-term consequences of orphanhood in middle age is considered in the empirical verification of the impact of this event on the life and personality of the adult from the subjective standpoint