Along with helping people create ethical wills, I've done community talks on the importance of completing advance directives for health care (often called "living wills"). An advance directive gives your family a gift of knowing your wishes for health care if you are close to death and cannot speak for yourself.
As a hospice volunteer and member of Partner's to Improve End-of-Life Care -- a non-profit community coalition (www.seriousillness.org/lane) -- I've also occasionally written editorial commentaries encouraging people to complete their advance directives. I submit the commentaries for publication in our local newspapers and The Oregonian in Portland which has a statewide readership.
I was pleased to learn that The Oregonian published my Op-Ed Commentary (May 15) about Terri Schiavo's legacy. You can read it at:
In early May, The Register-Guard in Eugene published a similar version of the commentary.
Hopefully, many readers of these newspapers and their on-line websites will take action and complete their advance directives.
Your advance directive, combined with your ethical will and legal will, provide a clear picture of your health care wishes, your values, and your material assets. I encourage you to complete all three documents. Give yourself and your loved ones these "gifts of a lifetime."