Sir Terry Pratchett has started the process to end his own life. It is a rather sensationalist headline, considering that Sir TP still wants to complete the novel he is working on, plus: "Pratchett, the creator of the Discworld novels who was 60 when he was diagnosed, said his decision to start the formal process did not necessarily mean he was going to take his own life."
This news fills me with sadness. Sir TP is a talent that will never be equalled in the field of comic fantasy, satire, and the sheer joy of mocking social trends. His books are absolutely beloved by millions, from the adventures of Tiffany Aching, to the trials and tribulations of one Sam Vimes.
Equally, though, I feel proud of Terry Pratchett. He is currently facing one of the greatest taboos and asking all of us to talk about it in an adult manner. He is bringing death into the spotlight, and asking WHY people are not able to choose the manner of their death.
Currently the manner of birth is chosen, how to celebrate birthdays, how a funeral should be conducted, how a wedding takes place... The only area in which a person is not given complete control is over their death.
This is a particularly grave subject to me because I watched a man I loved very much die in pain and anguish, with all dignity stripped from him. His wife was forced to look after him like a child during his last few weeks. He was diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer. In his remaining months he helped to trial new prospective treatments - in the end, one of these killed him. He took as much choice as he was allowed; he tried to help other sufferers by using his body as a living experiment - but I feel sure he would have preferred to wrap up his affairs and choose a day to pass quietly and with self-respect intact.
I know this is an enormously delicate subject and we all will have views on the matter, but I, for one, am glad that we are being encouraged to talk about it and make it less frightening a possibility by one of our best-loved authors. His public battle with Alzheimer's, and the fund raising for the connected charity, and, now, his struggle to choose his own death have, in my opinion, benefitted every one of us.
I hate the idea of losing Terry Pratchett. But I would rather lose him while his memory is one of a fiercely intelligent and humorous human being, than of someone who "used to be able to write, who used to be good". I would rather he retained all dignity.
And this is why I say 'Sir Terry, I salute you!' and I am behind him in his battle to die as he chooses.
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