This takes a minute to explain, so bear with me, or click on by now.
My dad had cancer. They had done an exploratory surgery, decided there was no surgery that would help, closed him up and recommended radical chemo as the only hope. About a month later, sitting at home, he stopped breathing. My mom calls 911, the paramedics revive him, but he had been not breathing for almost 10 minutes.
At the hospital, we all (nine kids and assorted spouses) sit around with my mom while we wait for the verdict from the docs. They conference with her, and then she tells us that they say that there probably isn’t much hope, that he most likely will never regain consciousness, or live without machine support. She says she can’t make the decision alone to disconnect the life support, and wants us to talk to the doctors and see what we think.
We all file into the emergency ICU, and Mom says to the doctor and nurse “Tell them what you told me.” They give us the scoop, and then wait. Everything is quiet for a minute, and then I ask a question for clarification. They answer, and I ask something else. Now everyone is sort of looking at me, like I know something. Feeling like I’m in some sort of weird dream, I keep going. After a couple of more minutes, it seems pretty obvious that my Dad is pretty much gone, and in fact has been gone since the minute he stopped breathing.
I turn to my mom and say, “Based on all of that, it seems pretty clear. We should turn off the machines”.
Now don’t get me wrong. My brothers and sisters, my wife, and even my mother were not leaving me alone in this. We were all very much of a mind, and supportive of each other.
But I was the one who said out loud that my Mom should let my Dad die. That was tough.
They removed the support and he died about 12 hours later. We were all there. That was tougher.