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My 82 yo mother has moderate/severe dementia and is being cared for by my dad and sometimes myself. She has spent her life saying she's"just going to die anyway and no one cares" "you'll all be happy when I die" etc. I believe she has borderline personality. The negative comments were bad enough when she was well but now it's constant all day and night. Distracting her doesn't work. She is on anti-anxiety meds which aren't really helping. My dad and I (dad especially) are extremely frustrated. Nothing worked when she was well either so I'm sure it's not the dementia causing it (maybe aggravating it). Does anyone have experience with this or any suggestions? This is really affecting my dad's health. She's in adult day care 3 mornings a week and we are hiring home health to start next week but it won't be every day due to cost. We are desperate for help.

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I am 55 with early dementia. It is not a personality disorder. It is a brain disease. Living with it at any stage bites. I want to die, too. People are clueless as to how it feels. Suicide should not be a crime. Religions that preach against it are ignorant.
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Just this morning I called Mom to see how she was doing after the podiatrist paid her a visit yesterday. She wouldn't talk with me yesterday. Today, she still was not doing well. She was mad at the world, and she takes our conversations to places I don't want to visit. Guess she put up quite a fuss and the doctor was able to work on one foot only and didn't accomplish much with those nails of hers. She repeatedly said she wants to die and she is sorry that she bothers me about helping her get out of "that place". Quote, "I just can't take it in here any longer". I keep repeating what I say every call and that is how much I want her to feel safe and secure and she says she doesn't feel that way in a strange place. She has been there well over a year. Her behavior seems to be getting worse, and we have discussed adding another medication for her psychosis. She is quite alert, but is sure she is going to have a heart attack.....she is very confused and loves to push my buttons. I too, am always at a loss to calm her down when she gets so worked up and starts crying hysterically. This is a dreadful disease and I wish I had done things differently early on, like move her closer to me. Hind sight is wonderful, isn't it?
Hang in there everyone. I am amazed at how many of you share similar stories to mine. Thanks for that.
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My mother called for everyone's attention when we gathered at her house two christmases ago. There were about 20 of us there. She held up her glass and thanked everyone for coming to her LAST christmas celebration. She's said over the past few years that she doesn't have long to live so many times, that a collective groan was given by everyone there. She was so self absorbed in her own drama, that she didn't even notice that we all pretty much rolled our eyes and didn't miss a beat. Its sad in a way.
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tbumpy, welcome to the board.
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Thanks for all the helpful comments and suggestions. It's good to know there are others who have also dealt with this all their lives. I have learned to distance myself emotionally from her but it just gets so old hearing her pity party. Ignoring it just makes things worse as she tries using other tactics to get attention. She is now on a different antidepressant which seems to help some. My biggest concern is for my dad since he doesn't know how to deal with her. He is totally against going to a support group for reasons that he won't say. His health is declining but he won't do anything about the situation and is upset with us for hiring home health. I'm sure he has depression but he says he's not. It seems everything we try to do to help him is shot down. It's upsetting to see my parents so miserable and feeling helpless to do anything. I do think at this point in her life and situation that my mom would be happy if she died and I'm ok with that. I'm not ok with my dad now seeming to take her place.
On a side note, personality disorders are very difficult to treat and it's doubtful a therapist will do much help for her at this age and unless you have a family member with a mental illness it can be difficult for some to understand what its like living in that situation.
Again, thanks for letting me know I'm not the only person who has a mother like this. I spent so many years thinking my mom was the only mother who talked like this.
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I would see if she would just sat down and talk to you. Maybe somewhere nice and quite to see why she feels the way she does. Has she ever been diagnose with depression along with her dementia? Will she discuss this with her dr or maybe someone else?
Landry, is their a support # number she can call or her mom call to talk to someone or our the phone # different for each state?
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Get her to talk to you. It will not cause her to act on it. I volunteer on a hot line and we are trained to "stir into the pain".
Having someone to talk to may be what she needs. If this is too much or difficult for you, call the Samaritans and they can walk you through this.

Do not pooh pooh it as "you're just feeling sad today", etc.
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Has anyone completed a depression screen with your loved one? Try to keep conversations positive if you can. Be as supportive as you can as well. Is your loved one a person of faith? Would it be helpful for a Chaplain to visit for support and prayer? Getting older is not easy-try to give her some control in her life as she has experienced so many losses. Allow her to make simple decisions in her life. Good luck.
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My mother who died a week ago told me that all the time. I've never been in my 80s so I really don't know what it's like. I knew that my mother was going to die. I told her that she would get to see Hunny Bear and Teenie Bopper and C.C. and Thumper and she'd be with my favorite cat, Clancy and she'd really like him--but to remember that Clancy's mine and I want him when I get there as well. I know that it is unpleasant. I heard a lot of "soon I'll be dead and you can get rid of me." I heard a lot of stuff like "nobody likes me." Don't we all feel that way. I am sorry that you have to listen to that. I've had to listen a lot.
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I do not see calling someone an (idoit) is doing any good for anyone.
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I believe that Cattails is correct. It's not healthy. I've had to live with something similar with my mother for decades. Just because someone can function, doesn't mean they don't have issues. Usually those issues can be traced back to childhood. In the case of my mother, I know they do. Wolves would have done a better job raising her than my grandmother did. My personal belief is that substance abuse, dementia, stroke, or any condition that distorts or impairs judgement, only makes underlying issues worse.

One thing I'd like to add, being dismayed by an elder's negative behavior doesn't mean you don't love that person and want the best for them. Finding the balance between what's healthy for them and healthy for you—I'm now learning—is a very difficult path to navigate.

I feel for you tbumby. Believe me, you aren't alone.
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What do you say when your mom says she wants to die? Try and ignore it and see if that helps, it may be attention seeking behavior. As you said the dementia is probably aggravating it and she doesn't remember that she just said "I want to die" so she says it over and over again. Talk to her doctor he may be able to prescribe something along with the anti-anxiety that will help.
Hang in there,
Sarahjean,
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I agree with the personality disorder, And I certainly don’t say it as to demean anyone! Here very lately, I’ve come to believe that my Parents have hidden my Moms Personality disorder and now add dementia to the mix, it’s more profound. Mom’s always had major mood swings, anxiety and paranoia, she self medicated with Alcohol has been Sober for over 25 yrs but she’s addicted to “nerve” pills, i.e., Ativan.

Mom has been very successful and guilty her Family but I’m the only one left that’s close enough to manipulate….I’m not playing her game anymore, my vision is clear! She’s always said that “Dad is getting worse, they’re going to put him away” Wellllllll….I see the opposite and I pray not to have my Mom under lock and key. I’ve heard her say, “I’m a good con artist” and I’ve seen her wink when asking for another “nerve pill”

This weekend she called me in a low whisper begging me to bring her some money, 2 men had come in their room like gangsters, she thinks Dad must owe them money. They were the Nurses Aides coming to take Dads vitals. The day before, someone had put trash in her depends. They give her the sleeping pill that she begs for then says the nurse knocks her out. Thing is, she wants me to be upset and act a fool with the N.H. on illegitimate allegations.

Now she’s asking God to stop her heart so she can go home. I really do believe that she is mentally tormented. My Parents are 88 and 97, in their day if you had a Mental illness you were put away, Bipolar was not known. Mom has recently been prescribed Seroquel and her anxiety meds increased I pray big time that this helps. Oh and she also is being treated for a UTI.
So tbumby, I’m hoping that meds will help your Mom settle down for the sake of you and your Dad, talk to your Moms Doc, I wish you all well.
Please let us know how it goes for you.
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It does sound like she has and still is suffering from Major Depression. They need to put her on an antidepressant med. Has she ever taking any anti meds in the pass?.
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This is tough. Anti-anxiety meds rarely work for those with moderate/severe dementia. The meds that do tend to work, primary healthcare doctors are hesitant to give (or aren't authorized to do so) because many of them carry a risk of death in the elderly. We danced around my dad's abusive and negative verbal bashing far too long, mostly because we didn't know what to do. I pushed his primary to give a higher dose of his meds, but it still wasn't working. She had him on 50mg when a full adult w/ mental illness takes over 200mg. It made him a little less edgy but he was still verbally abusive. We finally took him to an emergency room, had him involuntarily committed and FINALLY someone was listening and they had him taken to a geri-psych facility where he was given the appropriate meds. I'd like to say things were fine, but he had other health issues too and had been spitting out and hiding his pills for so long that he died about a month later. I don't believe the meds were responsible for his death in total, but the damage he had done combined w/ the meds may have contributed to it. You need to get you mother evaluated by a psychiatrist - and preferably one that is geriatric saavy. Otherwise, the priamary is playing "let's try this inadequate pill" and you'll be at that game forever.
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Norma: That is beautiful and your aunt is blessed to have you. Big hugs, Cattails.
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My Aunt of 92 years was also constantly telling me that she wanted to die. I stopped trying to talk her out of it and basically I agreed with her that it might be for the best and I said that I would miss her--but let's face the facts s together. I did two things ---and she is better. First, I said let's plan your funeral and I made it real with asking and taking notes on her choice of readings and hymns and also what she would wear and what we would put in her obituary. I made a serious attempt over several meetings to talk about how she wanted ehr death to be commemorated. hen i put it into the computer and printed it all out and gave her a copy--which she keeps in her prayer book.

Also I told her that talking to her was sometimes the high point of my day and that I still need her help and her advice. I will be all alone when she dies. She wants to be needed.And she wants to think that she is helping me. And I said--I hate to be so selfish--but I would like you to stay alive and help me a while longer--if that is the WIll of God.

She then asked me what she should do when she feels like she wants to die. And I said say this--and I loudly and urgently lead her in a recital of the Hail Mary.

And she said--OK. And that is what we do now when she says it--and she hardly does anymore.
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My Mother has done the same thing for a few years. She is Bipolar/Borderline Personality Disorder (among other things). We have found an excellent geriatric therapist for her and a psychiatrist that knows his stuff as far as meds are concerned. Ask around and get some recommendations either from staff your Mother is contact with or physicians she sees. Do your research! If your Mom feels comfortable with a certian therapist is makes life much easier for all involved.
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I appreciate all the posts and I appreciate everyone's ability to see that some of you are talking about apples and some are talking about oranges (different circumstances and realities). No one shoe fits all.
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Thanks for your post, JoyceW.....see this is what I have been trying to get across: there is a HUGE difference when the parent you've been caring for is narcissistic or manipulative and has only just become that way due to dementia or other illness, and has not been that way all their life!! It is so different when they can turn it on/off at their will.....
How wonderful to hear that your mother is so loved. It must be so hard for you and your family to watch her go down this road. I wish I could tell my mother that she was very loved all her life, that we still love her and value her so very much right now, and of course would be devastated were we to lose her but it would all fall on deaf ears, sadly.
I'm sure you are giving your mom the very best care you are able to - and you sound like a wonderful and compassionate, caring person. May you be showered with blessings.
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I tend to agree with you "sandfox". When Mom is in the throes of sadness, I tell her that she is loved and that even though she is so far away, I still derive pleasure just hearing her voice. I can't imagaine how out of touch & lonely she must feel and how the loss of control is overwhelmingly difficult to deal with. Dementia or not, I know my Mom is still in there somewhere and she must be very afraid. I also feel that when she determines (if she can) enough is enough, she will find a way to leave us. My mother-in-law did just that! God rest her soul.
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Ohiodaughter has a point; I expect that when I become severely disable from whatever condition, mental/phyisical, I too will have the desire to die. Life, essentally, is over and you are a drag on everyone around you. I understand this attitude.
People have a right to "feel" what they feel and some are honest enough to say what they feel. Please don't call it a mental illness.
I've met disable veterans, young guys who are in their early 20's, who have lost arms, legs, brain abilities, and they'll tell you that they want to die. They have been conditioned by our culture to think that they have to "do something" or "produce something" in order to be worthy of occupying a piece of the earth. They buy this. So, is it surprising that they want to die when they can't perform up to societal expectations?
Our elders have been conditioned in the same culture. So, when they express a desire to die, it's kind of a normal reaction to lose of abilities to perform up to expectation.
At this point, you tell them, "To heck with what the culture wants, I want you to stay. Your family needs you and your love." However, when she determines that she has "had enough", she will find a way to go despite anyone's wishes. When life becomes a major struggle and they feel constantly in torture, it's kind and compassionate to allow them to go. JMHO.
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@libracat - very well stated - "devious plotters"! I really like that!!!!That's exactly what they are. I never let it get to me, cause I knew what she was trying to do - plus I had excellent support from my wonderful husband of 37 years and our kids. Believe me that helped SOO much - helped keep my sanity. I never argued with mom about it - when she would say something "stupid" like wanting to die, I would just walk away or change the subject - which got her annoyed but she didn't say anything, subject closed. By arguing with her I would actually let her be in control - her aim was to make me miserable and I wouldn't allow her to do it! She told her friends that she expected me to leave my husband and take care of her - and she loved my husband - he took her to get her hair done, grocery shopping, etc. whenever I couldn't. All her friends and neighbors complimented her on what a wonderful family she has. I was taking care of her - like I said before she was very healthy and mentally stable. She never drove and I did that for her by taking her to apts., shopping, lunch or whatever. I also did all her bills and banking only because she was too lazy to do it - yes for that I gave in because I felt if down the line something happened to her, I might not be able to oversee what she was doing with all that. She also commented to many doctors that she "had a daughter to take care of her in her old age and it was my obligation". Kinda controlling and expecting alot with that statement. She had me caring for her and STILL wasn't grateful. I'm just glad that others saw the way she was with me and knew the truth. That's what made it easy for me to go on day to day and not get angry with her. And yes, I agree about the cost with all her "bogus" hospital trips and meds that she didn't need. I was called from rehab (many times) saying that she told them she couldn't breathe and needed to be brought to the ER as she was putting a piece of bacon in her mouth - the nurse said she was fine and pulled the bacon from her mouth when she told the nurse that I didn't come to see her yet that day (yes, I went every day) so to "make sure I came to see her" she wanted to go to the ER! But because she claimed she couldn't breathe to protect themselves they had to call 911 and I don't blame them. But there were way TOO many times she did that. Meds she didn't need? At her regular checkup the dr. would ask how she was doing - she would say she didn't sleep the night before and out came the prescription pad. I would say to him why don't you ask her why she didn't sleep? It's because she slept half the day - so naturally she wasn't tired at night! duh - But right away sleeping meds. He would ask how she felt and she would answer oh I have a little pain here and there in my bones (she was in her 80's) and now it was MORE STRONG pain meds. Other doctors - same thing. She then would "brag" to her friends about all the pills she had to take because she was sooooooooo sick! So I guess I just took you up on your offer - I vented to you! LOL Honestly, though I want to tell you how right you are and how I love them being called "devious plotters"! Take care & God Bless.
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@graceterry - I think you need to Google "Narcissistic Personality Disorder" in order to familiarize yourself of what these people are capable of, because it sounds as though you haven't had any experience with someone who has it.
@elaine826 - this is EXACTLY what I'm talking about - they are masters at it and you will never get ahead of them!! They are devious plotters who MUST win in order to maintain control........I know how difficult it must be for you and I am exactly where you are. When my mother was hospitalized on one of her many "visits", in came an old woman with her daughter.
The daughter was so angry that she was red in the face. The mother had pulled this trick so many times, pretended she didn't speak English and just wanted to eat and sleep.......she complained that "no one at home cared about her and they just wanted her dead". They will try anything to get the attention and control that they want and never mind the inconvenience to you. Plus they cost our health system millions with their many hospital trips and medications that they don't even need half the time!! So I can fully sympathize. You can vent to me anytime!
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This conversation has been a real eye opener for me. My Mom suffers from the effects of a brain hemorrhage leaving her short term memory really bad and her speech somewhat impaired. We have phone conversations on a regular basis and the past couple as well as earlier ones have been very depressing. She talks about the horrible sadness and wanting to die. All she ever wants is for everyone to leave her "the he_ _ alone", her words. She is the woman who won't let anyone touch her. She feels she is being mistreated and I can assure you in reality she is been treated well in the nursing home. She wants a home by herself, where she can die. Of course, there is no arguing or reasoning or any of that anymore. She is also the person, who won't let anyone help her with her toenails (haven't been cut in over a year) and now she has been complaining about a swelling on her right abdomen. However, if I suggest a doctor check it out she gets very upset. I believe my Mom has suffered with depression (untreated) most of her life. She is on medication, but I don't think it works all the time. I have hired an elder care nurse who sees her twice a month, but we cannot seem to come up with a plan. Mom trusts no one except her old doctor and I don't know if she could even be taken to see him.....it would be a huge ordeal for her to get dressed and travel to his office. Although I don't have anything to add to the wonderful suggestions made already, I just wanted to say, that one persons question can certainly help others, like me. Thanks.
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My father also has dementia and says the same thing about every other day..he will hollar for hours saying he wants to die. We have tried several meds and to be honest we have not found one that works. Its just a choice of how he feels that day. The best possible thing i do is reaasure him that its Gods decision when and tell him how much i still need my dad and my kids need their granddaddy..sometimes telling him if he doesnt stop yelling and disturbing the kiddos he wont get his daily ice cream..lol beleive it or not..works ..just like taking care of a child all over again. Hope things work out for you. I feel evert bit of your pain and frustration!
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Forgot to say - the best advice I have received on this constant commenting of "Maybe I should die, then you'll miss me" and "I just want to die" is:
DO NOT ENGAGE......that's what they want. They just want a pity party for themselves and want to chew about all their ailments and be heard. It's just another form of manipulation.
When they start that, just say "Uh huh" and walk away, change the subject, distract them somehow or ask them about their past -- they love that and are only too happy to talk about themselves.
Or tell them that you have something on the stove, have to take the laundry out, etc. I'm not saying that you should negate their feelings -- everyone deserves to be heard -- but when they get on that incessant rant, and it keeps repeating, then try another tactic or strategy with them.
We had to move from a magnificent house to a one-floor condo but my mother is enjoying it the most, because it gave her control since she does pay a meagre amount of rent and now is in the middle of everything. Also there are a ton of seniors in here, so she can commisserate with all of them about what she thinks ails her. She was disliked and avoided in her old apartment for this very reason.
She was jealous of the swimming pool (!!) at the house, because that took me away from her, so I wasn't allowed to get any enjoyment out of that, and she is also jealous of my granddaughter and doesn't waste any time telling me "I don't see why you have to look after her all the time" which is not her issue to comment on anyway.
So if it isn' t the "I wish I could just die" , it's something else!! Be careful what you wish for, I say!! Our family lost two young members of its community this weekend and I'm sure they weren't wishing to go at age 25 and 41 so why can't she just appreciate what she has and be grateful to be alive and enjoy her children, grandchildren and great- grandchildren!!
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I agree with NancyH - some of them have this guilt thing down to a science. My mom was almost 89 when she passed - she was very healthy for her age until her fall and she broke a hip and she was always mentally fine - she remembered things so good she could have been a detective. She survived hip surgery only to code the next day -then it was 4 months of rehab & hospitals - she developed MRSA, c-diff, pneumonia, blood clots, and then developed a hole in her colon which was the end. However she WAS ALWAYS alert - right up to the last 4 days of her life in Hospice. Anyway, since she was in her 70's she would always say "oh, I should just die", "maybe I'll just die and then you'll miss me". She would say this even when dad was alive (he died in 97). I lived ten minutes away from them and my husband and I were always going out with them and the grandchildren were always visiting and she loved them both. (I'm an only child). At first I used it as an opportunity to discuss her directives and wishes - thinking that was her way of bringing up the subject and wanting to discuss it. Then all that was settled and she continued saying these things . When dad died, my husband and I would take her out shopping, to lunch or wherever about 4 times a week - so she was getting plenty of attention. Her grandsons visited her a few times a month - they were in their 20's. But she continued to say it to me and her grandsons. But even though she said it - she wanted to make sure she kept her regular dr. appointments and have all her meds - so there was a contradiction right there. Years ago when she was in rehab for a UTI I had her evaluated by a team of psychiatrists (3 different ones at 2 separate sessions for a total of 6). ALL of their findings were the same - she was mentally alert as a 30 year old, had total recall - both long and short term - of a 30 year old. BUT she was trying to control me and laying the guilt trip on me. They were amazed at how well she was in doing it - they would see it first hand - they made surprise visits to her room while I was there and listened to the difference of how she was when I was in the room. The nurses saw it also - she was their perfect patient but when I was in the room she would say "oh they have to take blood - OMG I'm going to be in such pain - see how bad I have it". They would be in shock because without me there she would never complain. I would purposely walk in and out of her room while they were doing something with her and her attitude turned completely each time - in fact as she was yelling in pain (while I was in the room) and then I would say I had to leave and make a phone call - she would ask the nurse if I left yet - when the nurse told her yes (even though I was at the doorway) she would start talking about the nurses children or the weather - no more yelling in pain! Oh how well she was at it!! At the ER (for one of her attention getting episodes) as I stood outside and the doctor told her there was nothing wrong - she pleaded with him to make something up "so her daughter would feel sorry for her". She played the game so well. When I would tell her that my husband and I were going away she would say "well you know I'm not going to be here when you get back". I answered "so you're going on vacation too!" to which she replied "well you TRY to enjoy yourself while I die while you're gone - you know I want to die". Another time I took her grocery shopping (she never knew how to drive) just before my ten day cruise and told her to make sure she got plenty of groceries. I met up with her and hour and a half later to find 5 items in her cart. I calmly asked why she didn't have more to which she blurted out "well while you're gone I'm not going to eat and I'm telling everyone that you don't take care of me - see I might die and you don't care". Luckily her friends and neighbors knew. . So you see she had the guilt trip down to a science!!!! I feel bad for you for what you're going through - being a caretaker is not easy at all. Make sure you take care of yourself and allow time for yourself. Get professional opinions on why she might be saying these things. Although I knew mom didn't really want to die and saw how she was trying to control me - noticed I said "TRYING" - it sure helped when the psychiatrists confirmed it! Good luck!
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Sounds like your parents are still living at home......Hopefully your parents have done some estate planning.
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Response to: "...So the next time she says "I just want to die", say to her "so based on your behaviour in life, where do you think you'd be going? Heaven or Hell?"..."

This is shame-based theology, to say the least. If shaming would help people, we would all live forever. Try ignoring undesirable behavior instead....and think about getting some help for yourself so you don't feel a need to punish or "manipulate harder" than your mother. Blessings to you, G~
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