On a totally different train of thought...(story as told to me, a non medical person,so forgive me if I misunderstood any of it)
My wife is a nurse on a pediatric floor. Recently, they had a child with a brain tumor who wasn't going to get better. He already had next to no brain function...he didn't flinch when stuck with needles...didn't respond to words from docs or nurses...ect.
Well, the family finally decided the poor child had suffered enough. They signed a DNR and stopped everything but pain medicines. Then the death watch began. The family all said their good byes, and they expected to meet up in heaven.
With all of the family there, the child didn't die. They thought he would die reasonably quickly. By the second day, the mother was exhausted, so they sent her to go get a bite to eat around lunch time. When she left, his pulse dropped. They called the mom who came back and picked up the child for comfort.
The pulse rate returned to "normal." At this point, they suggested the mom tell the child it was okay for him to go to heaven again. Around dinner, the mom went for some food. Again, the pulse rate dropped. They called the mom back, but warned her that picking up the child would probably keep him alive. Instead she again told the child he should go on to heaven. He did. Talk about tough; imagine knowing that just picking up your child would keep him alive...and then making the (in my opinion correct) choice not to.
So my question is how much control do we really have over when we die? This child had next to no brain function, didn't respond to touch, but the touch of his mom would restore him enough to continue living.
I know my wife's reaction was to tell me that if she was dyeing/brain dead, I better say my good-byes and then let her go.
But if you think about it, there are plenty of stats for will to live. How many spouses die within a year of each other? There's also lots of anecdotal evidence. The interesting thing about this case to me was that it would seem the desire to live or let go isn't a higher brain function.