Introduction to the Stortellers
Leslie's Story about making choices about
Advance Directives

Leslie and Ralph's children, Dorthea, Thomas, and William just finished dinner and are visiting at the kitchen table. The grandchildren are picking up and doing the dishes (and eavesdropping on the conversation).

Dorthea: Mom, I still don't understand why you and dad chose to not have any life saving efforts if you have an emergency.

Leslie: Well, it is our decision. We both talked a lot about this and feel that life saving techniques could cost you all a lot of money, result in us not having a high quality of life even though we'd be alive, and that such an event may be the Creator's way to take us with little pain and discomfort of all of us.

Marcia (23-year old daughter of Dorthea) [wiping the dishes and turns to talk to the elders at the table]: But Grandma, what if the emergency could be easily taken care of? You know, like on TV, those big electrical shockers to your heart?

Leslie: (chuckling) yes, I know what you mean, but no, I don't want anything like that done to me. Who knows what all of that electricity could do to your brain (she makes a funny face and everyone chuckles).

Hugo (16 year old son of Thomas): Oh, very funny Grandma! But I learned in school about this guy who goes around killing people who want to die and all of the legal issues. You're not going to do that are you?

Leslie: (laughing harder). No, don't worry, Hugo. Those are mercy killings and other similar types of chosen deaths. I'm not choosing to die. I am simply clarifying how I wish to die if I have a health emergency. I won't have one of those mercy killings done. Neither will your grandpa!

Hugo (still concerned): But I heard that if you sign one of those forms that they don't feed you and you could die of starvation. None of us in the family could even sneak you some food! I couldn't do that, Grandma!

Leslie: (more serious). I am sorry you are so concerned. But the body has a natural way to prepare for death. Most people who die naturally aren't hungry or thirsty. It is the body's natural way of preparing to close down. Feeding me if I was unable to talk with you, would only make the dying process harder on my physically and spiritually. I would not want to see you upset. This is an important decision and one you should also think about what you would want for yourself.

Hugo: But I'm only 16!! Why would I want to think about anything like that?

Leslie: Because these are important choices. You should make these choices for yourself. What if there was a school bus accident? What if you had serious problems that didn't allow you to talk or tell us that you were in pain? With what types of health problems would you be willing to live and what types would you not want to live with? Look at Jamilla who is quadriplegic, but she is a happy child. She does artwork using her mouth to hold the paintbrush. Her advance directives are good for her.

Hugo: Yeah, Jamilla is pretty cool. I like her a lot. She is also really smart. Do you mean she has done these types of documents? She is only 14?

Leslie: Yes, she is only 14, but when she was hurt the social workers and nurses in the hospital talked with her and her family about her life. She made the choices with her family's support. They are so proud of her and love having her alive and happy. But these were hard choices for all of the family. But it was right for them. What do you think would be the right choices for you?

Hugo looks thoughtful as do the other family members.


Have you prepared written "Advanced Directives" for yourself?

  1. Yes
  2. No and I don't plan to
  3. Never thought about it before and don't know if I will
  4. Have thought about it and think I will do this within the next few months
  5. Have thought about it and think I will do this sometime in the future
  6. Don't know / Not sure
  7. Don't want to answer
  8. Other. ______________________________________________

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