Introducing ‘Dear Sarah’

JFS Answers Your Questions in New Advice Column

JFS is publishing a new advice column that will appear in each issue of Jewish Federation of Delaware’s monthly jVOICE Magazine. Submit your questions, and receive answers and advice from one of our licensed therapists. Names and details will be altered in published letters to protect your privacy. All letters will be answered and can be viewed on our website.

August 28, 2017

Dear Sarah,

My aging mother has been saying lately that she is ready for her life to end. I love my mother, I want her to be around. Of course she has the usual problems: cataracts, arthritis, poor hearing, but I believe that her life still has meaning and pleasure. It would be different if she were in pain, I could understand that. I know it has been hard on her seeing friends and people she loves die but what can I say or do for her to let her know that there are still people here who want her to be around for a long time.

Miserable Daughter


Dear Daughter,

One of the most futile exercises in the world is telling someone else how they should feel. Your mother does feel that she has had enough. Sometimes this means that she has accomplished everything she wanted to do, and so has no goals left to strive for. Sometimes this can be the product of depression or a medical or emotional upset. Try to draw your mother out and find out why she feels ready to die. Then perhaps you can help her.

You will find it difficult to help her unless you realize why you are feeling so upset about your mother’s readiness to die. At whatever age, we tend to see our parents as a loving umbrella which stands between us and the cold, cruel world. Loss of a parent makes us realize our own aloneness and mortality. You might want to open a discussion with your mother with the observation that Judaism believes that every life is precious, including hers. Be prepared to share your own feelings, and be prepared to listen very carefully to hers.