There is a debate on assisted suicide currently raging in England and Sir Terry Pratchett has written a great letter about the dignity of letting someone go. Pratchett is a fabulous author (if you have not read his Dicswold books what are you waiting for) and has Alzheimer’s. I was lucky enough to have met him once at a book signing and he was very nice and very funny.
So in his letter Terry writes, “We are being stupid. We have been so successful in the past century at the art of living longer and staying alive that we have forgotten how to die. Too often we learn the hard way. As soon as the baby boomers pass pensionable age, their lesson will be harsher still. At least, that is what I thought until last week.
Now, however, I live in hope – hope that before the disease in my brain finally wipes it clean, I can jump before I am pushed and drag my evil Nemesis to its doom, like Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty locked in combat as they go over the waterfall.
In any case, such thinking bestows a wonderful feeling of power; the enemy might win but it won’t triumph….
I write this as someone who has, regrettably, become famous for having Alzheimer’s. Although being famous is all the rage these days, it’s fame I could do without. I know enough to realise there will not be a cure within my lifetime and I know the later stages of the disease can be very unpleasant. Indeed, it’s the most feared disease among the over-65s….
I am enjoying my life to the full, and hope to continue for quite some time. But I also intend, before the endgame looms, to die sitting in a chair in my own garden with a glass of brandy in my hand and Thomas Tallis on the iPod – the latter because Thomas’s music could lift even an atheist a little bit closer to Heaven – and perhaps a second brandy if there is time. Oh, and since this is England I had better add: ‘If wet, in the library.’…
From personal experience, I believe the recent poll reflects the views of the people in this country. They don’t dread death; it’s what happens beforehand that worries them.
Life is easy and cheap to make. But the things we add to it, such as pride, self-respect and human dignity, are worthy of preservation, too, and these can be lost in a fetish for life at any cost. I believe that if the burden gets too great, those who wish to should be allowed to be shown the door. In my case, in the fullness of time, I hope it will be the one to the garden under an English sky. Or, if wet, the library.”
For the full article go to: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1203622/Ill-die-endgame-says-Terry-Pratchett-law-allow-assisted-suicides-UK.html