Below is copied an old email message I sent out to some friends. It is difficult to recall the precise emotions as I watched the Schiavo family and their tragedy rehashed ad nauseum in the media. In the end, I hoped the public awareness of Terri's situation would inspire some of us to take steps to avoid a similar fate. Only then can we say that Terrri's passing would not have been in vain and little more than a circus ring used by others in media and politics to push their own agenda.
From: Frederick Mischler
Sent: Thursday, March 31, 2005 11:43 AM
Subject: Take care of yourself and your loved ones
Terri Schiavo died this morning. It is hard to imagine anyone in the US who does not know something about this particular tragedy and the tribulations that her family and loved ones have gone through for the last 15 years.
What has gotten lost in the discussions and analysis on news shows is that much of this public tragedy could have been prevented if Terri had made her choices clear on a simple piece of paper.
This, of course, does not diminish the anguish that a family will feel when they begin to understand that their loved one will likely not recover from a terrible event. However, by addressing such issues at a time when everyone can discuss them to their fullest extent, we can each feel that we understand the choices to be made and can accept the choices made by those we love. And, we can accept the awesome weight of the decisions necessary when our loved ones can’t speak for themselves.
In Ohio, Living Wills and Health Care Powers of Attorney have been available for years. I recommend that you consult with your family and friends, and with your legal advisor to understand how these documents work and what they mean in the context of your own health care and quality of life.
American Bar Association is committed to encouraging competent adults to take the time to complete advance care plans stipulating who should make decisions in the event they should become unable to speak for themselves, and what their basic health care preferences are. As part of that effort, the ABA has made available a wide variety of free on-line resources designed to make it easier for people to make the necessary preparations. Those resources, which can be found at www.ABALawInfo.com, include forms and information available to the public for download free of charge.
Further, Living wills and health care powers of attorney are typically one part of a larger estate planning process. If you have any questions about this or have never considered your own estate plan, please contact me. I will be glad to help you begin to understand the issues related to such planning.