Terry Pratchett and the right to die
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|Mon, 08-03-2009 - 3:00am|
OK, so this isn't actually about abortion but the board's been slow and this man is one of my very favourite authors ever. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2007, and wrote this for the Mail on Sunday yesterday:
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 hate the term 'assisted suicide'. I have witnessed the aftermath of two suicides, and as a journalist I attended far too many coroners' inquests, where I was amazed and appalled at the many ways that desperate people find to end their lives.
Suicide is fear, shame, despair and grief. It is madness.
Those brave souls lately seeking death abroad seem to me, on the other hand, to be gifted with a furious sanity. They have seen their future, and they don't want to be part of it.
I have been told that doctors do not like patients to worry that, theoretically, their GP has the expertise to kill them. Really?
I suspect that even my dentist has the means to kill me. It does not worry me in the slightest, and I imagine that, like many other people, I would be very happy for the medical profession to help me over the step.
I have written a living will to that effect, and indeed this article in The Mail on Sunday will be evidence of my determination in this matter. I cannot make the laws but you have no idea how much I hope those in a position to do so will listen.
In the course of the past few years, I have met some delightful people who say they have a passion for caring and I have no reason whatsoever to doubt them. Can they accept, however, that there are some people who have a burning passion not to need to be cared for?
From personal experience, I believe the recent poll (supporting the right to die) 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.