For almost anyone about to undergo a seemingly non-life threatening surgery, the potential of dying is not something you would even think of considering. But with any surgery, anything could happen; the family of 13 year-old Jahi McMath found this out the hard way. Last month, Jahi went in for a routine tonsil removal procedure, but following surgery, she started hemorrhaging and went into cardiac arrest. Shortly following, she was declared brain dead and her doctors told the family that she had no chance of waking up. For the last month, the family has been battling with the doctors and legal courts to keep her on life support, but the court has ruled that on January 7th the hospital is required to remove her from life support. As the battle rages, the family struggles to get the go-ahead to move their daughter to a facility that will keep Jahi on life support past the court issued date.
While this situation may seem very grim, I think a lot can be learned from the family’s struggles and the complications that resulted from a routine surgery on an innocent teenage girl. While most people never want to have to think about death, this world presents every day dangers that could result in death. While most people won’t die from a routine surgery or some abnormal accident, the looming consequences of a death is not something you want to leave your family with without any prior guidance or consolation from you. Luckily, many things, from a living will or simply talking to your family, can save a lot of grief imposed by a sudden death.
Now I know that discussions about death do not constitute typical dinner table conversation, and most people usually avoid the topic. But as seen every time you turn on the news, death can happen in an instant, just like in Jahi’s situation. The McMath family had not talked about any proceedings involving life or death situations and now is stuck in a very sticky situation. Bringing up this topic to your family can start the planning so your loved ones are never left in a similar situation. A living will gives families a go-to when dealing with the medical treatment of an individual when they are no longer able to express informed consent. Jahi does not have a living will set in place, so the legal proceedings leave her family with no out. Talking about making a living will with your family can start the thought process in them to actually get one set in place for you and your love ones.
From an emotional standpoint, dealing with any death in your family presents extreme emotional distress. While nothing seems like it could help in this type of situation, every day actions can help you or your loved ones dealing with a death. If you love and care for someone, tell them. Don’t go a day without making sure that those closest to you know how you feel for them. Out of anything you could do before a bad situation occurs, the single most important thing you could give your loved ones is an assurance of the care that you had for them while you were on earth. Additionally, importance lies in the tying of loose ends caused by petty fights or disagreements. Even though you may be in a tiff with someone, never leave somebody with a bad memory of you as the last one to remember you by. Jahi McMath was robbed of this ability, and hopefully her family can eventually find the consolation they need through her death. Doing these simple things can give your family the peace of mind before and eventually after death or a traumatic event. While the Jahi McMath situation presents an awful situation that no family would want to get caught in, Jahi’s story can also help others to find ways to prevent such distress happen to your family and others.