Thursday, 4 February 2010

My Life, My Death, My Choice

To quote Sir Terry Pratchett.

I hope he’d forgive me for pinching that line as my post title, but I was so inspired by his lecture and those six words say so much.

I have always believed very strongly that human beings should have the right to decide when to die, yet in our culture prolonging life at whatever cost seems to be the norm.

And I mean cost as in the price of human suffering, not financial terms.

There are several instances I could go into when life should have been ended painlessly with dignity and compassion instead of the painful, frightening, confusing and pointlessly drawn out end inflicted even after all hope had gone - but this isn’t going to be a long post about human suffering.

Those who are anti-assisted death seem to think it will somehow become compulsory, but the whole point is choice.

I would never allow an animal that I loved to go through what some people I have known and loved have had to endure in their last days, weeks, even years of hell. And if I did, I would almost certainly be liable to prosecution for cruelty and rightly so.

I respect the views of those who believe that their life and death is in the hands of whatever god they believe in, but equally they should respect the views of those of us who don’t share their beliefs.

Long live Sir Terry – but allow him to write his own ending.


  1. Hear, hear Teresa

    I've been lurking around your blog for a while now and love reading about your take on writing and life itself.

    I too, listened to Terry's speach and was very moved not only by the speach itself but also by the fact that he injected such humour into such a traumatic subject.

    As you rightly say, we allow our pets to a dignified and painless death when all hope has gone and only suffering is left, so why not give that choice to our loved ones too, in a properly controlled and legitimate environment of course.

    Keep up the good work!


  2. I used to work in a residential home for elderly people.
    I remember one, very poorly, lady whispering, "They wouldn't put a dog through this, would they?"
    Enough said.

  3. Last year my Mom begged to be given an injection to end it all. She was given one to ease the pain and she went to sleep. On waking a few hours later she was angry and upset. She hadn't wanted to wake up again and begged for someone to listen to her plea. I only wish I could have broken into the drugs cupboard.

  4. Thank you for delurking, Linda.
    When I started watching the speech I didn't expect to laugh as much as I did!

    So sad, Sue. And so cruel.

    I know exactly what you mean Lynne x

  5. Well said Teresa. Many of us have witnessed the pain and suffering of loved ones. In the age of endless choice, in a 'must have' society, it seems odd that we have little choice in the timing of of our own ending.

    Excellent post.

  6. Excellent post, Teresa. I watched Terry Pratchett's speech too (full marks, by the way, to Tony Robinson, for delivering the speech so brilliantly) and wanted to cheer, as I feel so strongly on this topic. I admired the spirit, lucidity and wit of his arguments - to be able to laugh in the face of his illness is heroic. My aunt died of Alzheimer's a couple of years ago and it's the illness I dread above all other. To be robbed of wellbeing and mobility and strength - all bad: but to be robbed of memory, dignity and your essential self - infinitely worse. Surely we are all entitled to choice about our own bodies, our own lives - surely we can decide to bow out (listening to Thomas Tallis, as Sir Terry says) in our own homes, not in that seedy little dump of a flat Dignitas owns in Switzerland.

  7. Thank you, Martin.

    I agree, Lorna. Tony R did a fantastic job. I think it is criminal that people have to go all the way to Switzerland and probably do so long before they really need to just to be able to undertake the journey.

    Thanks, Geri.

  8. I 100% agree with you Teresa. Didn't see Sir Terry's speech but I strongly support people's right to die with dignity. I don't have personal experience of the situation(thankfully) but the comments from those who do are very moving. Well done for speaking out.