Terri Schiavo’s Kin Reacts: Thank You and We Forgive You

The blood-relatives of Terri Schiavo responded to her death Thursday evening with words of graciousness and forgiveness during a press conference held in front of the Woodside Hospice where the 41-year-old disabled woman died earlier in the day.

“As you are aware, Terri is now with God and she has been released from all earthly burdens. After these recent years of neglect at the hands of those who were supposed to protect and care for her, she is finally at peace with God for eternity,” said Schiavo’s sister Suzane Vitadamo and brother Bobby Schindler.

Speaking in front of a 200+ crowd, many whom brought flowers and tears to the conference, the Schindler family thanked those – including politicians, lawyers, doctors, volunteers and protestors – who rallied their support for Terri throughout the years-long battle.

“Thank you to the hundreds of doctors who volunteered to help Terri. Thank you to the fifty doctors who provided statements under oath to help Terri. Thank you to the lawyers who stood for Terri's life in the courtrooms of our nation,” they read.

They also thanked supporters worldwide who have been praying for Schiavo until her last moments, and asked that all support comes in non-violent forms.

“Please continue to pray that God gives grace to our family as we go through this very difficult time,” they read. “Following the example of the Lord Jesus, our family abhors any violence or any threats of violence. Threatening words dishonor our faith, our family, and our sister, Terri. We would ask that all those who support our family be completely kind in their words and deeds toward others.”

According to the Associated Press, Michael Schiavo – Terri’s husband who fought opposite her parents throughout the bitter case – his lawyer George Felos, and Pinellas Court Judge George Greer – the judge who ordered for the removal of Terri’s feeding tube – all received several death threats throughout the ordeal. More than 50 Terri-supporters were arrested in the past few weeks since Schiavo’s tube was removed, some for serious criminal allegations.

At that light, the Schindler family also gave a message of forgiveness that stems from their faith.

”Throughout this ordeal, we are reminded of the words of Jesus on the cross: "Father forgive them for they know not what they do." Our family seeks forgiveness for anything that we have done in standing for Terri's life that has not demonstrated the love and compassion required of us by our faith,” they said.

And finally, the family gave their blessings to Terri Schiavo herself, thanking her for the life and legacy she will leave behind.

“As a member of our family unable to speak for yourself, you spoke loudly. As a member of our family unable to stand under your own power, you stood with a grace and a dignity that made your family proud,” they said.

They also said that while they grieve her death, they are comforted in the fact that “God loves you more than we do.”

“Terri, we love you dearly, but we know that God loves you more than we do. We must accept your untimely death as God's will,” they said.

Ultimately the family reminded Terri that her death was not wasted.

“Terri, your life and legacy will continue to live on, as the nation is now awakened to the plight of thousands of voiceless people with disabilities that were previously unnoticed. Your family intends to stand up for the other "Terri's" around this nation and we will do all that we can to change the law so others won't face the same fate that has befallen you,” they said.

God's plan for Terri is unfolding before our eyes. Our prayer at this time is that our Nation will remember the plight of persons with disabilities and commit within our hearts to defend their lives and their dignity for many generations to come.