Made the transition…passed over….went to his heavenly home…promoted to glory… We find ways to avoid saying it: People die. The large majority want to die at home. Most don’t. Only certain prison inmates know the specific moment when it will happen. Sometimes death becomes a long battle about what’s best…what the person would want….. The attorney in the only right-to-die case to be heard by the Unites States Supreme Court says one document is important for everybody to have if dying becomes complicated. Twenty years ago Bill Colby became the lawyer for a Kansas City firm who represented Nancy Cruzan’s family, which got the ruling allowing doctors to remove her feeding tube, allowing her to die. She died 15 years ago last December. Colby, the keynote speaker at a statewide conference on end of life issues in Jefferson City, says the definition of death has changed and is changing because of technology. He says it’s impossible to anticpate health care in 20 to 30 years when today’s baby boomers will be nearing the end of their lives and they and their families will have to make some decisions. Colby has told the conference one piece of paper assumes primary importance when dying gets complicated: the durable power of attorney that names someone to be an advocate in the complicated health care system whent he person is unable to act on their own. He downplays the value of living wills because people cannot anticipate all of the circumstances and complications that can arise in their final days–especially as medical technology finds new challenges to accepted definitions of death. His advice: give someone your power of attorney for medical matters….and make sure you and your family have what he calls “the talk.” Colbyhas retired as a lawyer and is now a Fellow of the Midwest Bioethics Center. He has written his second book: Unplugged: Reclaiming Our Right to Die in America. His first book was about the Cruzan case: The Long Goodbye, the Deaths of Nancy Cruzan.
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