Tuesday, 7 June 2011
Britain is still a country for an old fantasy writer called Terry Pratchett but only as long as he wants it to be
Sir Terry Pratchett who is 63, has early-onset Alzheimer’s disease and has said that when his own time comes to die, he would like to be sitting on a chair on the lawn at his home, with a brandy in one hand and a glass of life-ending chemicals in the other. "And with Thomas Tallis on my iPod, I would shake hands with Death."
Terry has made a documentary for the B.B.C. called 'Choosing to Die' about the subject of assisted dying and travelled to Switzerland to film the final moments of Peter, a British man suffering from motor neurone disease, who had chosen to end his life at the Dignitas Clinic.
Terry said that he felt as if he was "spinning" in the moments after Peter's death. "Something was saying, 'A man is dead … that's a bad thing,' but … he had an incurable disease that was dragging him down, so he's decided of his own free will to leave before he was dragged. So it's not a bad thing, it is a good thing, I think, that in those circumstances Peter got what he wanted – a good death."
Terry's film which also focuses on the cases of two other men facing similar choices, is likely to reopen the debate over the legal and moral constraints on assisted dying and he will be glad if it does.
He backs assisted death : "because if someone knows they can die when they want to, they can treasure every day. They can think, 'The grandchildren are coming over tomorrow' or 'It's nearly Christmas so I'll leave it till the new year … it's a bit painful but we can hang in there.' So someone is doing an incredibly human thing, something that no animal can ever do – actually controlling, if not forestalling, their own death – and getting some pride out of that, I suspect."
In a Richard Dimbleby lecture last year he said, with his friend Tony Robinson reading his words :
"If I knew that I could die at any time I wanted,then suddenly every day would be as precious as a million pounds. If I knew that I could die, I would live. My life, my death, my choice."
A brave and dignified Terry talking about his Alzheimer's disease :