Who pulls the plug on me?
March 30, 2005 6:08 PM   Subscribe

Help me choose who gets to pull my plug.

(Living Will). I am single with no kids, and off the bat my parents are out of the running because a) they disagree with each other over end-of-life issues, and b) I simply could not stand making either of them make this choice if ever the time came. I couldn’t put them through it.

So, my choices are my Brother or “Josh,” “Jim” or “Sheila,” all incredibly close friends of mine. The decision is hard not because I can’t decide who to “burden” this with, but because of potential conflict with my parents.

If Brother makes the decision and my parent/s don’t agree, major family rift could ensue until the end of time. Ugly, horrible, and I don’t want my family broken up by this.

Josh and Sheila are very good friends, but don’t have relationships with my folks. Good, in that if they disagree, no big deal in terms of ending a friendship. Bad, because my parent/s wouldn’t necessarily care as much about their opinions, and could fight them.

Jim is my best friend ever, and my parents LOVE him/him them. They’d give his opinion ultimate credence which is good, but if they disagree he’s in the same boat as Brother – it could ruin their relationship.

Would you choose someone who was very close with your folks in the hopes that they’d all be more ready come to terms and agree, or someone who *wasn’t* as close with them to spare a potential ruined relationship if things went bad?
posted by tristeza to Human Relations (12 answers total)
Please, decide for yourself. Set it out clearly and don't allow it to be slugged out by proxy. Detail it deeply and you'll miss the pit falls.

Your decision worded, when executed by an entrusted shouldn't be much for a deep rift. It will work out and those who love you will stick.
posted by sled at 6:20 PM on March 30, 2005

I may be missing something, but I thought the point was that you decide what happens, not the executor of your will.

Based on that, I'd say your brother. I know your friends are very close, but no one knows what's going to happen between now and any unfortunate occurrence. Your family will always be there for you, and your brother would be best equipped to stand up to your parents.
posted by samh23 at 6:30 PM on March 30, 2005

Like others have said, I think you might have a Health Care Power of Attorney confused with a Living Will. In a Living Will, there is no proxy making decisions for you, instead you specify exactly what you want to happen in an end-of-life type situation.
posted by reverendX at 6:41 PM on March 30, 2005

Advanced directive. Please, please, please. It will make everything so much easier for your loved ones if you're ever incapacitated. Sit down with your doctor and write one now, while you're healthy. Make sure everyone knows that you have it and how to get it in an emergency -- it won't do you any good in a safe deposit box somewhere.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 6:47 PM on March 30, 2005

Response by poster: Sorry if I'm unclear. I am speaking, I guess, of a Health Care Durable Power of Attorney here i.e. my wishes are clear and on paper, but I have to name someone to carry them out if I cannot speak for myself.

I guess what I'm asking is, who would you hate more if you were my parents and I was having my plug pulled? A relative stranger or someone close to you? I'm not talking rationality (because it'll happen regardless) but emotionally ("oh my god, son, you killed your sister! even tho that's what she wanted! you're bad and we hate you!") This question might possibly be more clear in my head than "on paper," too.
posted by tristeza at 6:52 PM on March 30, 2005

Have you tried talking to your parents about what they think (about your brother vs. your friends etc.)?
posted by duck at 6:57 PM on March 30, 2005

I would be more worried about a practical concern: Who is easy to get ahold of? Is your brother often away on international travel? Does Jim not have a cellphone? In situations where (medical) power of attorney applies other than pulling the plug - like deciding on the best course of treatment, organ donation, etc., time can be a factor.

Other than that, I say pick your brother. Your parents will forgive him, he's their son.
posted by falconred at 7:05 PM on March 30, 2005

And make sure that everyone involved, no matter who you ulitmately task with the responsibility, is aware of your wishes, and understands that they are final.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:08 PM on March 30, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks, all. Question answered.
posted by tristeza at 7:23 PM on March 30, 2005

A 'do not resuscitate' tattoo would also send a very clear message of your intent, and is apparently becoming more common as we speak if you search the web and news.
posted by [this is good] at 10:49 PM on March 30, 2005

(IANAL etc)

His concern about a person who will carry out his wishes is important - in many states a written directive, whether it be tattoo across your forehead or signed, witnessed, and notarized statement of your exact wishes, is trumped by the person legally recognized as your decision-maker.

Nothing you can put on paper can completely remove the possibility of a giant pissing match, your best bet is what dirtynumbangelboy said - make it known to those wou could have a legal leg to stand on what you want. The current Shiavo debacle certainly makes it easy to broach the subject with your parents.
posted by phearlez at 8:15 AM on March 31, 2005

It is also important to not that no matter your decision, as an unmarried person, your parents can still make the decision for you regardless of your own living will in some states. For example, I know here in Georgia, the courts have left doctors and hospitals open to malpractice suits on behalf of your family the hospital lets you die according to your living will and they wished it otherwise. Consequently, the hospital will listen to your family over anyone else (namely your own personal decision if you don't explicitly leave it up to somebody else) because frankly, you can't sue the hospital when you're dead.
posted by jmd82 at 10:47 AM on March 31, 2005

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