Hopefully not repeating too much what has been said elsewhere, I have one reflection and one “lesson” from this horrible mess.
First, regardless of where you stand on the issues, I pity that Terri Schiavo’s death was surrounded by media attention and the protesters and uproar on all sides. In her final days, this woman was stripped of something any of us would want — having our death a private and peaceful one. What she and her family went through is abhorrent.
Second, if you haven’t figured it out by now, it is imperative to have a living will and/or a durable power of attorney for health care decisions. I personally prefer the latter. I can’t today foresee what may happen to me or what medical advances may bring. My wife (who has my durable power of attorney for health care) knows far better than anyone ever could what I would likely do or want in any particular situation. My durable power of attorney specifically gives her the right to withdraw or withhold artificial nutrition and hydration if she believes the burdens outweigh the benefits.
Give the people you love the power and ability to see to it that your wishes are implemented, whatever they may be.