I sent the following as a Letter to the Editor to the Trenton Times early this morning (before Mrs. Schiavo died all the way); I got the "are you who you said you are and did you send this letter" call, so it will probably be printed within the next week or so.
In the uproar since Terri Schiavo's feeding tube was removed, many people have said that death by starvation (although it's actually dehydration that kills you first) is exceptionally cruel, painful, and inhumane. This is not true in my experience, which is obviously not first-hand but is pretty close second-hand.
Both of my grandmothers chose to die of dehydration/starving, though it wasn't phrased so bluntly. They each had reached a stage in their illnesses (cancer at age 86, stroke at 98) where they could no longer eat, both refused feeding tubes, both had living wills, both died at home cared for by their families.
My observation was that it does not, in fact, seem to be a very painful process, but is a very slow, natural, gentle way to let go. A recent article in the Los Angeles Times interviewed many medical personnel, who agreed. There's a profound difference between withholding food & drink from an active healthy person -- which is what most of us think of as "dying of thirst" -- and the way a dying person naturally loses interest in it. It does not have the bitterness of depression, but is very peaceful and, dare I say, spiritual.
By the time this letter is printed, I imagine that Terri Schiavo's case will be moot. For people (including me) who have been prompted to get our own living wills in order, it may help to know that a death like hers is not necessarily to be shunned, when it's time for you to go.
It will be interesting to see if it gets any reaction.