Husband vs. Wife

Janet writes:


Dear Dr. Phil,

Boy, do I have a marriage dilemma for you. I feel very strongly about being an organ donor and being able to save someone's life, but my husband, Joey, is completely against it.

"I want to know that my wife is complete in that casket," Joey says.

This is the one argument that has no compromise in sight, but I still refuse to turn in my organ donor card. Joey can't get over the thought that if I pass away before him, he will look in the casket and see only my head and skin. Dr. Phil, is there any way you can help my husband and I negotiate this issue? Because we are out of ideas.

Dr. Phil meets the couple and asks Joey to explain his objection.

"I work in a hospital. I've had to witness bodies that have been harvested, and I don't want that for my wife. God forbid, if she passed away before I did, that's going to be emotional enough as it is. I don't want to be viewing her, wondering how much of that is her in that casket," he says. Joey says he knows they replace bones with PVC piping, and that offends him. "It's treating something sacred to me in a disrespectful way."

"Isn't it wonderful to think that in her passing, that she touches all of these lives, and in a sense, continues on? Have you thought about that point of view?" Dr. Phil asks.

[AD]"I have."

"And that's what you want, right?" Dr. Phil asks Janet.

"I just think that would be the greatest thing, to not only be able to change somebody's life but possibly save somebody's life," she says. "And I've had that marked on my driver's license since the first driver's license I've ever had. And we've discussed that pretty often, and we just can't seem to negotiate it."

"If you were able to negotiate some assurances that maybe the skeletal portions of the body weren't contaminated, as far as internal organs, you would be more comfortable with that?" Dr. Phil asks Joey.

"Sure," he says.

He asks if Janet is willing to negotiate donating her organs but not her bones. She says she is.

"Well, then we've made some progress here, right? And listen, I totally get where you're coming from because when you think about the process of the harvest, it can be kind of overwhelming, which would already be at an emotional time," Dr. Phil says. "But if you recognize that you've agreed on some limits and that you will be there to insist that everything be handled with dignity and respect, then you could not only feel good about protecting your emotions, but also honoring her wishes to create a legacy even in her passing. And that's the best of both worlds, right?"

[AD]"We have a beautiful marriage and this is the only area where we disagree," he says.

"But you don't disagree anymore, do you?" Dr. Phil asks. 

"Right," he says.

"Thank you," Janet says.