Writing out wishes could save
a family unendurable grief
June 2, 2001
Press Democrat Editorial
Seven California Supreme Court justices will decide whether
Robert Wendland will live or die.
This decision -- which should have been made by the man and his
doctors -- has been thrown to the courts because Wendland didn't
leave written instructions for his family in case of a medical
Nearly eight years ago the 49-year old Lodi man was in a car
accident that left him in a coma for 17 months. Since then, he has
lain helpless in a hospital, kept alive by feeding tubes. His wife
says he is mentally dead and that this isn't "what he wanted." His
mother says her son "never talked about how he'd want to die. It was
never in his mind."
Dying isn't on the minds of most people. But if Robert Wendland
had left written instructions and given copies to his doctor, his
family would have been spared the mental anguish of trying to guess
No one leaves their house in the morning planning to be in a car
accident, to be struck by an aneurism or to suffer a debilitating
stroke. Yet these things happen every day.
Take a few minutes to think about what you would want if a
medical condition left you dependent on life support. The best way
to ensure that your directions will be followed is to create a
Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. This simple document is
inexpensive, doesn't take much time to create (talk to an attorney
or call the Sonoma County Bar Association at 542-1190) and could
save your friends and family years of heartbreak.