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My Mom Has Lost Her Will to Live

My Mom Has Lost Her Will to Live

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Question:

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?

Answer:

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 Chabad.org.
Sefira Ross is a freelance designer and illustrator whose original creations grace many Chabad.org pages. Residing in Seattle, Washington, her days are spent between multitasking illustrations and being a mom.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
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Yehoshua S. LA 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. Reply

Anonymous Tzfat 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. Reply

Yehoshua S. LA 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". Reply

Anonymous March 14, 2016

a reason to live - a purpose this is so good and so true. I will share your message. Reply

Anonymous Tzfat 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. Reply

wendy faber yee NH 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, Reply

David L. March 11, 2016

"Purpose comes from serving others."

Doesn't purpose come from serving Hashem? Reply

Joey FL 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. Reply

Marin Tomuta Romania 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 :) Reply

Anonymous Tzfat 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? Reply

Anonymous england March 10, 2016

Hold your mother in your arms every day .Whisper in her ear his much you love her. Take her and bake her favourite foods. Go down memory lane with her. Reply

Anonymous Scottsdale, AZ March 10, 2016

Living too long Occasionally people who have already struggled all their lives as a result of their experiences with the Holocaust get to a point where they have outlived everyone they knew. They may be in poor health, have poor eyesight, difficulty hearing, struggling with assimilating new information. They still are tormented by their fears and anxieties. They can no longer do something simple like use the television remote, or use their computer. They are fearful of other people and cannot reach out, they see danger everywhere. In their 90's they have very little quality of life and continuously say they have lived long enough. I think you are way over simplifying in thinking the solution is simple for that person. The person I am describing could barely function or take care of her children. She was miserable, angry, isolated all her life. She could not believe in a g-d who allowed Hitler to do his atrocities. The reason I know this is because I am describing my mother who died last year. Reply

KiKi Phillips san-diego , a. March 10, 2016

A depressed other,!! If your mom lives in a big city there are a lot of volunteer options, one is Jewish family service, if she still drives, the Police department have a volunteer group it's called RSVP, Retired senior volunteer police. I am with this service since 2004 and it is very well appreciated by the police and citizens, try it. Reply

Sylvia UK March 6, 2016

A mother Once a daughter, sister, niece, granddaughter, wife, then a mother with children of her own. Each stage treasured, each staged loved. Most of all from Hashem above.

A woman has many qualities and motherhood draws on ones inner strengths of; time management, budgeting and organisation. Not to forget the wonderful qualities of; nurse, cook, cleaner, sympathetic ear, nurturer, the warmness of her tender love. All gifts from Hashem.

Now is a time for mature mothers, when their children are grown, to utilise these gifts and share them in the community with HaShem's help and blessing, gifts are for life. Reply

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