Due to all of the media attention around the Terri Schiavo case, it seemed timely to remind people to get your has-v’halila-wishes in writing now, while you’re still fine and can make these sorts of decisions. Then distribute them liberally and discuss them with your family. This has the potential to save everyone (including loved ones trying to make “the right decision”) a lot of suffering, and to make sure your wishes are followed.
There are some Jewish forms that can help make that happen.
This one is amazing (if you have trouble with the link, go here and click on the .pdf download link for “Jewish Medical Directives for Health Care”). It lists a whole range of possible situations with which one might be faced, and a number of decisions one might be able to make about one’s care–all considered acceptable according to halakha, and when there is a difference of opinion among rabbis, it’s indicated. So you fill out the form by checking a box next to your preferred decision, and you’re left with a very detailed list of your wishes, including lots of stuff you probably wouldn’t have thought of on your own. There’s also a form in the pamphlet for Durable Power of Attorney rights–that is, the assigning of rights to a specific person to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are not able. It’s a great form even if you’re not Jewish.
Highly, highly reccomended.
(Thanks to Ruth for the bottom two links.)