Schiavo case is about decisions |

Schiavo case is about decisions

During the past few weeks and months Terri Schiavo and her family have found themselves in the middle of a national media frenzy and debate. Many of us have argued the merits of her, and her family’s, status and ability to make legal choices. What may have gone unnoticed is Terri: a person, a wife, and a daughter. What may also go unnoticed is the grief and loss already present and sure to be ever-present long after the legal wrangling, television coverage, and endless debates from political figures and others who only now have entered serious debate and conversation about what end-of-life care will be like for all of us.For 30 years hospice professionals, volunteers and supporters have advocated for the rights of patients and family members to make informed decisions about their care. Hospice caregivers have long been companions with the dying in the journey for a pain-free, dignified, way of life that embraces quality of life – no matter what may befall us. Any of us. It is time we talk openly and candidly about death and dying with our family, friends, and medical professionals. Not slogans and sound bites meant to garner approval from a certain voting bloc. Nor avoiding conversations with our physician about treatment options, especially when traditional treatment is no longer effective or desirable. The current “case” (as national news organizations are referring to it) with Terri Schiavo is not just about Terri, her husband, and her family. It is more than the federal courts, opportunistic politicians, and journalists starved for a lead news story. This is about all of us, making our own decisions about health care, talking with family members about our choices, and executing any legal documents necessary to protect those wishes – before courts, politicians, or public opinion rob of us the ethical right and obligation to make our own choices with the direction and support of those we love.Don’t let these questions go unanswered. Tim Heflin, M.Div., is the director of Roaring Fork Hospice.

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