For more than two months, Bobbi Kristina Brown, daughter of Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston, has lied in a hospital bed in a coma. Her life, quite literally, hangs in the balance. She’s a young woman – just 22 – who, like most of us, had no concept of estate planning at that age. No one knows what she would want, not really. The grief over losing her mother was undoubtedly overwhelming and the fact that she was found under the same circumstances that took her mother’s life is not lost on many people. The tragedy continues for her family as they go, day by day, unsure of what’s coming next. In fact, few outside the family know who is making her decisions. Her story should be a reminder to us all the importance of living wills and advance medical directives.
Living wills and advance medical directives are memorialized legal instructions regarding your preferences for medical care if you are unable to make decisions for yourself. Advance medical directives guide choices for doctors and caregivers if you’re terminally ill, seriously injured, in a coma, in the late stages of dementia or near the end of life. The reality is, the majority of young adults don’t have these types of documents in place. That could partly be because of their parents. As parents, we want to always protect our children – even after they’re adults.
The way we see it, as long as we’re around, we will always make the best decisions for our children, no matter their age. One can certainly understand the grief that must weigh on her father. Frankly, it’s not a situation any parent should have to face. Unfortunately, it happens more than we realize.
As a young adult, even if you indeed would want your mother or father to be named as your medical power of attorney, you still can put those documents in place that allow you to convey what your wishes might be in a similar situation. Now, would Bobbi Brown want to be in a coma over the past two months? Most likely, she wouldn’t, especially if she was attempting suicide, as some have alleged. Removing all of the “Hollywood” from the dynamic, it comes down to a young woman whose father is grieving the loss of a daughter, even though he can’t quite quantify that loss. That’s possibly the most tragic truth to come from this.
With a medical power of attorney, you may name a spouse, parent, a sibling, your priest or close friend to make decisions on your behalf. Naturally, you want to choose someone who can make the decisions based on your wishes. Trust is crucial. Obviously, for most of us, a parent is the one we trust most in this life. There are times, though, when a young adult doesn’t want to place that burden on Mom or Dad. They may instead select a sibling or even their spiritual advisor, whether it’s a priest, preacher or minister.
What lies ahead for the collective Brown and Houston families remains unknown. What we do know is that the nightmare won’t likely end for quite some time, regardless of what happens to the young woman at the heart of this tragedy.