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My Mom Has Lost Her Will to Live

My Mom Has Lost Her Will to Live



My mother told me that she has lost her will to live, that she sees no sense in it anymore. I know she would not kill herself, but she hasn’t been taking care of her health, which is a way of dying slowly. I don’t want her to feel that way, but I don’t know how to help. Do you have any suggestions?


While I don’t know your mother and I don’t know the circumstances that have led to her despair, here are some thoughts.We all need a reason to live

We all need a reason to live. We all need to feel needed. We all need to have a sense of purpose. Having a purpose is far more important than having money or a comfortable life. It is even more important than our health. A life that is healthy but purposeless is like a blunt pencil. It has no point.

Purpose comes from serving others. When we know that we are giving, that we are contributing to the world, that we can make other people happy and help make their lives better, then life is worth living because we feel we need to be here.

Perhaps your mother already does a lot for others. Make sure she knows about it, that she feels appreciated. And if she isn’t currently doing anything purposeful with her life, then you need to find avenues for her to be productive. Think of something that she is able to do to serve others, and if that need doesn’t exist yet, create it.

If she is good with kids, give her more responsibility to look after kids. If she can drive a car, find an organization that needs volunteer drivers. If she can paint, let her share her talent in a way that helps other people. It is not enough for her to just indulge in painting. Perhaps she can donate her work to charity.One thing she does have is time

Maybe she doesn’t have any of those skills. But one thing she does have is time. And that she can give. Find people with more serious health problems than hers, find people who are even more lonely than she is. If she gives of her time to others—even just to be with them—she will very quickly find a reason to live.

Note: Mental illness and certain emotional issues must be addressed by a qualified professional.

Aron Moss is rabbi of the Nefesh Community in Sydney, Australia, and is a frequent contributor to
Artwork by Sefira Ross, a freelance designer and illustrator whose original creations grace many pages. Residing in Seattle, Washington, her days are spent between multitasking illustrations and being a mom.
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Discussion (14)
March 29, 2016
Re: can beauty provide purpose
Of course G-d made many things of beauty among his creations, and one hardly need search to see that. And indeed, art can be quite pleasing. But beauty alone does not make purpose. Beauty can definitely be found in achieving something worthwhile with ones life, I.e. Having a purpose, but just wanting to take in more beauty is in and of itself not a reason to push oneself on. In other words, there is beauty in purpose, but not purpose in beauty.
Yehoshua S.
March 28, 2016
Can beauty alone provide a sense of purpose?
According to Victor Frankl, yes it can.

G-d after all created a world full of beauty - flowers, butterflies, and more. It behooves us to recognise that this too can be purposeful.
March 25, 2016
Wendy Faber yee
Excuse me if I misunderstood, but I think you're missing the whole point of the article.
What Rabbi Moss is saying is that generally, lacking a sense of purpose comes from feeling unneeded, or just not having any responsibility. Having a creative outlet is good, but it rarely seceeds in instilling a sense of purpose, a need to exist. No matter what Picasso says, painting for fun every once in awhile does not prevent one from feeling like a "blunt pencil".
Yehoshua S.
March 14, 2016
a reason to live - a purpose
this is so good and so true. I will share your message.
March 12, 2016
David: So well said!
Yes! What I did tell my elderly friend in actuality was that every smile and every good thought is a mitzva and a life purpose. As well as every other mitzva and prayer, of course.
Still hard for her to swallow but it was the best I could do.
March 11, 2016
dear Aron, re: "it is not enough for her to just indulge in making art" Really? Please rethink or reword your thoughts to others. Creativity promotes healthy living to the elderly and to the infirm. Art is the grandchild of g-d" [Picasso].As well as life,-- Life-style is a Gift,
wendy faber yee
March 11, 2016
"Purpose comes from serving others."

Doesn't purpose come from serving Hashem?
David L.
March 11, 2016
I would advise you not to be so sure your mother wouldn't harm herself; it's possible that telling you this may even be a cry for help so that you can stop her. If possible, having her see some sort of professional may be a good idea.

Beyond that, I guess my advice is like what the rabbi said: make her feel useful. Even if she's not able to get up and about, ask for her advice about things, ask about her past, so that she feels like she can at least provide wisdom to other people. Encourage your own children or other relatives to do the same. Whatever happens, God bless.
March 10, 2016
Live for now, enjoy the moment....
...because its the present. ;) :)
It took and is taking me a long time to get over a happy time in my past. I've often felt I want to just die already. I felt useless and lost, but I'm sticking it out, and I have faith that what I cannot do on my own, I will eventually have some help from above. And slowly I am seeing it.
Love and Shalom :)
Give your mom as many hugs and kisses as often as she will tolerate it, or until a smile starts to show :)
Marin Tomuta
March 10, 2016
You seem to presume one's still having this ablity
I have an elderly friend who was an exemplary giver and doer all her life.
But now she is ill and in pain and doesn't have the ability to give as she once did. And now she says she wants to die [although she is doing all she can to preserve her health BH]
What positive message can I give her?