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Decide Life Or Death?

By: Althea Paul
By: Althea Paul

March 31, 2005

No matter what view you take, it is a tough decision to make, especially if you don't leave anything on paper. However, experts said there are some key things to be aware of if families are ever in that situation.

Terri Schiavo's name has remained in headlines now for weeks.

Some believe it was a right to die, others a right to live. Regardless, some experts said the way she lived should have helped her family with their tough decision.

"How has the person lived their life up to this point? How does that lifestyle lend itself to understanding what they would want under these circumstances?" asked Marietta McCarty, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Piedmont Virginia Community College.

McCarty believes it all boils down to communication between families.

"This final decision that needs to be made is an extension of the relationship and the communication, the understanding and the compassion that had been exhibited throughout their time together," said McCarty.

Chaplin Sarvaananva, with the Hospice of the Piedmont said she comes across situations like Schiavo, but that it's rare for families that are not estranged and that communicate.

"What we've found is that families that have talked together for years are probably going to be able to talk together and come to some kind of harmonious conclusion now," said Chaplain Sarvaananva.

Experts also added that it's not about making a right or wrong decision, it's simply about making the best decision for the patient.

"That it is not some kind of love that involves their needs, their desires, their fears, that it's all about the person that can't make their wishes known," said Sarvaananva.

Now of course, experts agreed it is always best to have something in writing, like a living will.


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