Dante’s Opinion: How can I stop my mum from killing herself?

It’s baaaaaack!

Dante’s Opinion (the original name and theme of this blog and a past weekly feature) is now on Dante’s Optimism.

Today, we’re looking at a woman who is struggling with her mom.

My mum is killing herself, she’s neglecting & harming herself & I don’t know if I should leave her be & respect her wishes or step in, but if so, how?

She has what is called the worst stage of Emphysema from smoking, and she’s supposed to be on 15hrs oxygen a day. But she’s stopped using it & says it’s because it needs to be serviced, but she also says the house is too messy to let the repair men in ( the house is clean & it doesn’t need to be serviced, it’s just a check).

She had aggressive throat cancer last year, & is recovering from radiation therapy, but is smoking again. When she had the cancer she lost weight, & is now down to 65lbs; when I ask her “what did you eat today” she’ll say something like “I had a coffee earlier”. She doesn’t eat all day, and then has dinner at 1am. Every day she stays up till 5am, even though she’s tired.

She looks after herself as in, she washes & cleans her clothes etc. But with the smoking, the lack of good eating, staying up late & the not using the oxygen, it’s like she’s just decided that she’s going to have things the way she has always had it, even if it kills her.

My sister and I help with shopping, and we go over and have meals or days out with her regularly, but we also have families and businesses to run. Our mum has no interest in looking after herself. Not even on a basic level of cooking breakfast or going to bed on time. She’s not the kind of woman you tell what to do. Have you ever experienced something like this?

Well, you would want to pray, but I mean…you can’t stop there.

If I were being honest here, I’d say there’s not much you can do. I think her situation took time to develop into what it is now. Getting cancer from smoking doesn’t happen overnight. She was harming herself and living a life years before this.

Because of that, I don’t think she will change. She’s on her way out, like you said “she’s just decided that she’s going to have things the way she has always had it, even if it kills her”.

Even though that’s what I see, let’s explore our options.

She needs tough love on some level. Someone has to smack her the face. My grandfather is an alcoholic. He’s been drinking since my mom was alive and probably before then too. Recently, after all of these years, she decided she had enough. She showed tough love and put her foot down. Too many people come with the “it’s gonna be okay, sweetie” approach.

She needs some help. Professional help. She needs to see how she’s affecting her family with this behavior.

At the end of the day, if she really doesn’t give a f, you’ve got to move on. This is your mom, so this may not be easy. But, you have to live your life. Don’t let your mom’s (seemingly purposefully) self destructive behavior pull your down. Like you said, you have a business to run.

She’s probably all worked up and angry about her life. All she needs as a starting point is to see that it’s not over…no it won’t be as good as it used to be…but she can still make the most of her life. Be  a testimony. Something.

God bless.


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