Guest Author - Vannie Ryanes
The right to die is definitely a family issue. While it may not be something we want to think about and certainly not think about, it is something we need to keep in mind. Some may remember Terri Schiavo who died March 2005, she was the brain-damaged woman who became the focus of a painful right-to-die battle. My question is, have we learned anything from the ordeal that Terri and her family members went through? Terri Schiavo is dead and her family was torn apart almost beyond repair.
This case touched everyone. Any death that comes is often too soon, it does not matter that it was expected, when it comes, it is still shockingly unexpected. There have been other cases similar to Terri Schiavo's, Karen Ann Quinlan comes to mind. Quinlan's family was of one mind when they made the decision that no extraordinary means be taken to keep their daughter alive. Karen surprised everyone and lived for about 10 years without artificial means. Nancy Cruzan is another sad situation that comes to mind. Left unconscious after an auto accident in 1983, her family fought to have her feeding tube removed. It took almost seven years for the Cruzans' to win their case. Nancy Cruzan's feeding tube was removed in December 1990, she died the same month.
My own dear mother had made her wishes known to my family for as long as I can remember. She had Alzheimer's Disease for many years; when she had a stroke and slipped into a coma, her physician told us that there was no chance of recovery. My mother had made it clear that she wanted no invasive surgery, no blood transfusions. With this in mind, we let her go peacefully and without challenge. I am sure mom would have been proud that her children followed wishes. My quiet acquiescence would have surprised her, at one time I was very angry about her decision. It turns out that mother did know best. There have been other cases similar to Terri Schiavo's, we just don't hear of them, they do not make headlines. The take-a-way is donít be afraid to bring up the issue of right to die with your parents or your adult children. Let them know your wishes, ask what their wishes are.