Bobby Schindler: eight years after Terri’s death

By Dave Andrusko

Bobby Schindler

Bobby Schindler

In my opinion, you should very much read an interview with Bobby Schindler, “Still Troubled by Terri Schiavo’s Death, But Inspired, Too,” which appeared in the National Catholic Register. Bobby is so honest and open that I do not wish to spoil the impact of his interview with Brian O’Neel by over-paraphrasing. Let me offer just a few thoughts and reminders to myself and, perhaps, to you and then link you to the full story.

Terri’s grotesque death by starvation and dehydration is now in the rear window of most people’s memories, if they look back at that day eight years ago at all. Terri died March 31, 2005. This year Easter falls on March 31.

Clearly Bobby is still struggling with his emotions. How could he not be? His sister was starved to death! So the basic, “how are you?” (perhaps a better question would have been “where are you?”) evokes first that it “changes” daily before Bobby responds with what he is doing:

“I guess the easy answer is: I’m committed to doing whatever I can so people will understand this issue. For the death merchants, so to speak, Terri’s death signaled the end. For me, it was the beginning. I’m not going to stop until everybody knows the truth about what they did to Terri, how she was barbarically and inhumanely killed, and how others are being killed just like her. That’s my mindset.”

What Bobby is doing is honoring Terri’s memory with the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network whose goal it is to helps medically dependent persons with disabilities and incapacitated individuals who face potentially facing life-threatening situations.

As closely as I followed the legal battle that went on court between Terri’s estranged husband and her family, it still caught me by surprise that it’s been 23 years since Terri collapsed; 20 years since the family and Terri’s husband stopped talking (except through lawyers) in a dispute over treatment (or lack thereof); almost 15 years since the husband filed a Petition to Withdraw Life Support; and nearly 12 years since the first time the gastric feeding tube through which Terri received nourishment was withdrawn.

Terri’s feeding tube was removed for the last time on March 18, 2005. She died March 31 after almost 14 days without nutrition or hydration.

Bobby is honest about his anger. But his most telling remarks, perhaps, may be his explanation of how he is going about trying to learn to forgive. Let me end with this one exchange:

O’Neel: “What sort of steps did you have to take toward coming to forgiveness? When did you realize this is something you would have to do, that you would have to work through?

Schindler: “It’s a daily thing. I didn’t like being attached to my anger. But it was also my faith. Hearing the Lord tell us it’s easy to love people who love you, but we have to love our enemies. Just those types of things. To get to heaven, I know I have to separate myself from hating people. I need to give any negativity to the Lord to find some peace in all this. It’s just kind of a process. It’s been a lot of work.

“I will tell you this: I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for my faith. There’s no way. I don’t believe you can find the forgiveness we need other than through Christ. I just don’t think it can be done.”

“Still Troubled by Terri Schiavo’s Death, But Inspired, Too” can be read here.