I had the privilege of blessing the grave of Terri Schindler-Schiavo, who was murdered on March 31, 2005 by dehydration. Her grave is not far from the place where she died, and where people from around the world had gathered to protest and pray. Those who visit the gravestone, however, will notice something highly unusual. While on most graves there is an inscription of two dates – when the person was born and when he or she died – on Terri’s there are three.
Here’s exactly what the grave says:
Born December 3, 1963
Departed this Earth February 25, 1990
At Peace March 31, 2005
The whole world knows that she died on March 31, 2005. National and global media were present at the scene for days, covering every detail. Media were present again when I preached at her funeral mass. We know when she died. But her gravestone has become a pulpit for the euthanasia movement. Those who killed her are now using her grave as a platform for their twisted ideology. What they are trying to say is that once her brain was injured in 1990 and she was no longer functioning like most of us, she wasn’t one of us anymore. She “departed this earth.”
This is actually a variation on an ancient heresy, which says that we are really spirits inhabiting a body. Terri couldn’t communicate normally. So, her “spirit” must have left her. The body was just a shell left behind. Those who believe she really “departed this earth” in 1990 can therefore pretend it was OK to kill her in 2005. After all, it wasn’t really her. She was already gone. This is heresy, because Christianity teaches that we are a unity of body and soul, not simply a soul “using” a body. The body matters. What we do to the body, we do to the person.
Moreover, the gravestone inscription is a deep insult to all who are disabled, and to all those who love and care for them. Should they be considered already dead, too? Are we just wasting our time caring for them? Euthanasia advocates would have us think so. A recent news story about a disabled unborn child quoted one as saying, “There’s no human life there.” Isn’t that the same idea? They think the baby has already “departed this earth,” so they don’t hesitate to abort the body.
As I blessed Terri’s grave, I also prayed that God’s people would be kept safe from this falsehood. And I recalled being in Terri’s room the day she died. I remembered
her face, dehydrated from not having had a drop of water in two weeks. I recalled seeing the flowers, inches away, on her night table. They were immersed in water. And as I left the grave, I gave a final glance to the vase of flowers that was standing by the stone. - Father Frank Pavone, February 2, 2009
Today, I read that Eluana Englaro in Italy will be taken to a hospital that will undertake to dehydrate her to death. This case has been before the public for a while now, as Eluana's father wishes to end her life. She has been in a state of diminished consciousness since 1992 when she was left brain damaged after a car accident. Her father has been petitioning the courts for a decade to euthanize his daughter.
In cases of severe dehydration, toxins build up in the body and the body's chemical balances are disrupted. This disrupts the electrical system that triggers the action of muscles, including the heart. The tongue and lips crack and bleed. The eyes recede into their orbits. The skin becomes so sensitive it peels off upon firm contact. The lining of the nose can crack and bleed. Dried brain cells can cause convulsions. The mouth becomes dry and saliva thick, and there is cracking of the mucous membranes of the mouth and lips. The blood thickens, increasing the risk of stroke. As fluid decreases in the body, blood pressure drops and the heart rate increases, possibly causing shock and heart attack. - LifeSiteNews, February 3, 2009