Terri Schiavo's Lessons in Advance Directives

 


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Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Freedom of press, religion, and expression. Americans traditionally see these as rights, not luxuries. Fundamentally, all these rights come down to freedom of choice. One very special American spent her last days in 2005 teaching us the importance of expressing these choices. For Terry Schiavo, the freedom to express her choices was a luxury she would never know. Whatever you believe about the right to live or the right to die, I am sure Terry’s story awakened in you an awareness of the importance of making these choices known. I am just as sure that few if any of you reading this have had the hard conversations with your families to apprise them of your choices and that even fewer have completed the sanctioned forms to document these choices. It has been just over a year since Terry died- March 31, 2005. We have grown complacent and re-entrenched in our innate denial. This denial pre-ordains that the stories of Terry Schiavo, Nancy Cruzan, and Karen Ann Quinlan are destined to be repeated.

In order for you to make sure that our next lesson is not happening to YOUR family, it is imperative that you take the two prong approach to making your decisions known. I call this two step plan the “Say it & Display it” plan. But before you can say anything to your family, you need to seek the guidance and counsel of those whom you most trust to fully discern your beliefs and wishes under a variety of circumstances. Going ahead and obtaining the forms will help you better understand the variety of situations you need to consider. You can obtain these forms in any hospital or can download them from multiple sites on the internet. Just Google Advanced Directives.

The next step is to breathe life into these forms. Talk about them and fill them out. They do not require an attorney or a notary- two witnesses will do. Say it and display it. And do it soon. Terry Schiavo was only twenty-five when she collapsed and succumbed to what would become a fifteen year coma. I challenge you to make your next family dinner conversation about more than Aunt Eleanor’s latest candied yam recipe. There is no greater gift of love that you can give your family than to prevent them from debating over what your choices would have been, and no greater gift they can give you than to uphold those choices. And there certainly is no greater gift you can give yourself than that one final, scared luxury- of making your own choice. Please make it today.

MICE exists to ignite a sense of integrity and joy in your workplace or organization. We strive to make your workplace the place you most want it to be, and you the type of worker you most want to be. We do this by providing continuing education programs to healthcare professionals; customized consultation, training and direction to businesses; as well as entertaining and inspiring motivational seminars. MICE President and Owner, Jackie Barnes, is a licensed clinical Social Worker with an MBA who has over 20 years of healthcare experience in both clinical and managerial roles.

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