More Than Meets the Eye, True Stories about Death, Dying, and Afterlife covers many aspects of the dying and grieving process and sheds light on euthanasia, suicide, near-death experience, and spirit visits after the passing of a loved one. ___________________________________________

Monday, June 29, 2009

Pulling the Plug on a Patient

My husband is a respiratory therapist. The task of turning off the ventilator to allow a patient to naturally transition has occasionally fallen to him. He tells a story about helping a friend cross over:

I work with lung transplant patients almost everyday. However, for some reason I bonded with Jerry from the get go. I met him less than a week after his single lung transplant. I remember how anxious and apprehensive he was about the post-operative phase. He had a lot of questions. After his first bronchoscopy, I went to his room and started a conversation with him and his wife. I remember it to be a joyful experience, sharing not only medical knowledge but also information about ourselves and our families. After that encounter he was always glad to see me for his procedures. He would praise me and tell me he loved me and how thankful he was. His lung transplant was a blessing to him because it allowed him to have his wish to live long enough to see his daughter get married.

From the time of his transplant to the time of his passing, Jerry had one complication after another, but his strong Spirit never waned. After eight months his new lung stopped functioning and his native lung was in horrible condition. He was placed on a ventilator with the hope that it might give him time to recover, but it was not meant to be. Jerry had not wanted to be placed on the ventilator. After three days, his doctor asked me to talk with the family because he knew how close we were. His beautiful, loving family and friends gathered to give Jerry their love and to say their farewells. It is believed that your hearing is the last of the five senses to dissipate, and even though Jerry was well-sedated, I’m sure he could hear them when they told him how much he had blessed their lives, (he had led many to know of Jesus). The ventilator was turned off and removed but he did not pass immediately. In fact, his blood oxygen level actually improved as his friends and family ministered to him. As they sang hymns in his room that afternoon, I could see a pink and purple aura around his face and head. There were some who did not want Jerry to go and they were essentially grounding him by holding onto his feet and hands. This went on for many hours. Before I left for the day I told Jerry how much he meant to me. It was not until after midnight that his spirit departed. I believe Jerry's life mission was fulfilled and he left us at an early age because he has another mission to accomplish. I have no doubt he will be as successful in the next life as he was in this one. I am so grateful for the privilege of having known such a loving human being.

It’s never easy to let someone go, but it can be a peaceful experience when we realize the favor we are doing them by setting them free.

For more information, you might enjoy reading the complete book More Than Meets the Eye True Stories about Death, Dying, and Afterlife available on

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My Views on Euthanasia

People with strong religious beliefs may not agree with my views on euthanasia. Many hold the opinion that voluntarily ending a human life is immoral and should not be legalized.

The Nancy Cruzan case provides the U.S. legal framework for honoring the legal right of a patient in a persistent vegetative state (PVS). Nancy Cruzan had sustained severe injuries in an automobile accident, and had been in a PVS for five years when the Cruzan family petitioned for the removal of her feeding tube. Hospital employees refused, without court approval, to honor the request of her parents and co-petitioners, to terminate her artificial nutrition and hydration, since that would result in her death. The Missouri Trial Court ruled that Nancy Cruzan had the fundamental right to ask for the removal of her feeding tube. The court rejected the argument that her parents were entitled to terminate her medical treatment, concluding that no person can assume that choice for someone else in the absence of clear and convincing evidence of the patient's wishes. Nancy had expressed to a former housemate that she would not wish to continue living if she became sick or injured unless she could live at least halfway normally. The court, however, decided that the State Living Will statute strongly favored the preservation of life, and that Cruzan's statements to her housemate were unreliable for the purpose of determining her intent.

In 1990, the US Supreme Court affirmed the state's right to determine its requirements for “clear and convincing evidence” and held that a patient in a PVS had the right to discontinue nutrition and hydration when sufficient evidence of their desire was available. In the end, a state trial court authorized the termination of Nancy Cruzan’s feeding tube on June 25, 1990, and found that a person in Cruzan's condition had a fundamental right under the state and federal law to do so. In this case, it would have been ideal for Nancy to have had a living will which stated her end of life wishes in writing.

My book, More Than Meets the Eye, has a legal copy of a living will in the appendix. Or, you may DOWNLOAD YOUR LIVING WILL HERE, and then print it and sign with two witnesses to legally secure your desires concerning life-sustaining treatment and end-of-life procedures.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Could You Unplug Your Loved One and Let Him Go?

My uncle underwent open-heart valve replacement surgery three times. During the third operation to replace his valves and repair an aneurism, his left lung was sliced open when his breastbone was being separated to access his chest cavity. The heart surgery was a complete success, which gave his family hope that he would make it. The damage done to the lung though was so severe that he was not expected to live. My family continued to hope for his survival.

With narcotics, and the help of a mechanical ventilator, he remained unconscious for weeks. When he finally woke up, unable to talk, he was given a paper and pen with which to write. The only word he managed to weakly scribble was “DIE.”

Prior to this, he had signed a document which gave his wife, and his medical staff, permission to decide what procedures would be done for him. Because of this, he gave away his power to choose. Even though he expressed his desire for passive euthanasia, he had several more surgeries as his wife exercised the rights assigned to her in his living will. To my knowledge, none of his physicians conducted an end-of-life discuss with my family, (such as the type mentioned by Dr. Milstone in chapter two of my book More than Meets the Eye about Death, Dying, and Afterlife), to help them make a decision about life support or to let him go and prepare for his death. Therefore, they continued hoping against all odds that he would recover.

After several months of intravenous feeding, he weighed only 108 pounds. A tracheotomy was performed to relocate his breathing tube, in hopes of allowing him to take nourishment by mouth. He was unable to swallow, so another surgery was performed to place a feeding tube in his stomach. His body made several attempts to carry out the will of his soul, which was to die. He contracted staphylococcal infection, then pneumonia. An aneurysm appeared in the vein where the IV had been, and had to be surgically repaired. Then a drug allergy, an intestinal infection, Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), and gall bladder inflammation threatened. The longer he lay confined to a hospital bed, the more depressed he became. His doctor prescribed Zoloft to alleviate his depression.

My uncle wanted to leave his body, yet my family, with good intentions, continued to hold him back.

How do you feel about unplugging someone and letting them go? Please leave a comment and share your thoughts on humane euthanasia.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Suicide in the Elderly

USA Today has reported that, among older people with terminal illnesses who attempt suicide, the number suffering from depression reaches almost 90%. Even Jack Kevorkian, the notorious “suicide doctor,” said at a court appearance that he considers anyone with a disease who is not depressed “abnormal.”

Kevorkian and others who argue in favor of physician-assisted suicide believe that even though depression is treatable; the disabling disease is not. Treating depression in critically ill patients will help to alleviate some of the emotional despair, but it does little to relieve physical symptoms. The patient will still lie on “death row” until the angels come.

My personal opinion is that we have more compassion for our pets than we do for our dying family members. We will euthanize our sick and dying dog, but we will allow our loved one to suffer to the end. I’m not trying to pin guilt on anyone about any end of life decision they may have made for someone, I am simply making an observation in hopes of helping others avoid the end of life trauma that my uncle endured.

For more information, you might enjoy reading the complete book More Than Meets the Eye True Stories about Death, Dying, and Afterlife available on

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Struggling with Emphysema and Life Support

My grandfather was diagnosed with emphysema fifteen years before his struggle to breathe confined him to his climate-controlled bedroom. Much of the last year of his life was spent in a hospital. The non-stop care for his declining health was beginning to take its toll on my family who never left his side. My grandfather knew that he would not be able to recover from his illness and lead a normal life. Therefore, he signed a document in which he requested that he not be resuscitated or placed on life support in the event of cardiac or respiratory arrest. I remember talking with him in his final days. I asked him if he was ready to die. “I believe I am,” he affirmed. He passed peacefully in the hospital without the assistance of life support.

My experience with a loved one’s decision regarding life support, has led me to believe that every person has the right to choose. This is one of the reasons that compelled me to write this book. I believe a person, who is kept alive by machines against his/her will, becomes a victim of someone else’s choice. No one should be denied the God-given power of free will.
For more information, you might enjoy reading the complete book More Than Meets the Eye True Stories about Death, Dying, and Afterlife available on

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Thoughts on Euthanasia

Some people believe that it is not wise to circumvent the dying process. The late psychiatrist and famous author, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, shared that her experience in working with thousands of dying patients and their families convinced her that euthanasia was wrong even for patients with terminal illness. She believed that euthanasia (which she called suicide) cheats people out of the opportunity to complete their unfinished business. The unfinished business she referred to is the contemplation of the ultimate meaning of one's life. She felt the “end of life” period is a time for resolving old disputes, mending relationships, and coming to a final recognition and appreciation of all the good things that have been a part of one's life. That may be easier said than done if a person is on life support and barely have a brain wave!

Personally, I believe we need to do our resolving and keeping our relationships up to date on a daily basis. We never know when our last day is.

Dr. Kubler-Ross believed that, despite their compassionate motives, those healthy bystanders who encourage or even assist in euthanasia are stealing the last precious moments of these patients' lives. I understand her theory, but I believe that every person’s unfinished business must eventually come to an end. If one is unable to live without life support, and feels his business is complete, it would be cruel to force them or their family to suffer needlessly.

Side note here: we induce labor to bring a child into the world against its will. That soul doesn't get to choose its own birthday. Shouldn't a soul get to decide when it enters or leaves the earth plane?

What do you think about euthanasia in a situation where there is little hope for recovery? If that person has a living will stating that he or she does not want to be kept alive on machines, would you have reservations about enacting their wishes and letting them go?

For more information, you might enjoy reading the complete book More Than Meets the Eye True Stories about Death, Dying, and Afterlife available on