Unless you were living deep in an underground cave in 2004, you remember the heart-wrenching story of Terry Schiavo and the controversy surrounding her death. Perhaps the only thing more tragic than the fact that the by all accounts wonderful person was living in a persistent vegetative state, was the battle that ensued between her ex-husband and her parents over whether to remove the feeding tube that was artificially maintaining Terry’s life.
If you’re like most of us, this story forced you to confront the issue of your own mortality, and what fate would befall you if you were in Terry’s situation. The good news is this does not have to be a roll of the dice. All of the arguments and heartbreak that took place within Terry’s family could have been prevented had she had a Living Will.
A Living Will is a type of Advance Health Care Directive, or in more simple terms, a health care declaration. A Living Will ensures that your wishes will be followed in the event that you can’t speak by yourself by directing a health care professional what to do should you enter a persistent vegetative state, become terminally ill or enter into an irreversible coma.
More specifically, a Living Will answers questions like: do you want to have extraordinary means or artificial nutrition and hydration used to sustain your life?; if you are in a vegetative state and your heart stops, should the doctors try to restart it?; do you want your family to pay possibly tens of thousands of dollars a month to keep you “alive” while they wait for a miracle?
A Living Will serves to solve many potential problems before they start. It can prevent people who are ready to die or will not likely heal from being kept alive by grieving loved ones who are not emotionally ready to let them go. It can help to give one some control over one’s own destiny in a country where the majority of the medical laws direct health care staff to do everything possible to prolong someone’s life even when the chances for recuperation are nil. And perhaps most importantly, as we learned from Terry’s case, a Living Will can prevent the people you love from being thrown into an arduous struggle pitting them against one another, or the medical establishment to see that your verbal wishes are fulfilled.
If you would like additional information about Living Wills or are interested in purchasing one, you can click here.