Shaking Hands With Death

Each year the BBC broadcasts the Richard Dimbleby Lecture, a 50 minute speech by a well-known figure on a topical subject they feel strongly about. Previous speakers include Richard Dawkins, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Bill Clinton and the Prince of Wales; this year the lecture was by author Sir Terry Pratchett, and read for him by actor Tony Robinson. Read for him because Pratchett has a rare form of Alzheimer’s disease called PCA, and is facing a future where his mental faculties will desert him piece by piece until all language, memory and reason are gone. Ranged against that ending is Pratchett’s own wish, to die in a chair in his garden, with a brandy in one hand and Thomas Tallis playing on his iPod. Hence his lecture is a frank, powerful and impassioned call that he and others in similar situations be allowed to die their way, and that those who assist them to do so not be prosecuted for their cooperation.

For those not able to sit through all 6 parts, an edited transcript is available here.
     Posted By: Dumbfounded - Wed Feb 03, 2010
     Category: Celebrities | Death | Hospitals | Medicine

Alzheimer’s is devastating, not just for the people who have it, but for the caretakers and family and friends around those who have it. It's not fair that a brilliant imagination like Pratchett's should fall victim to the disease. His plea that people in his position should be allowed to die on their own terms, with dignity, has merit. Unfortunately I believe our society is a long way from accepting euthanasia as a norm. We don't like having to consider our own mortality, let alone others.
Posted by Nethie on 02/03/10 at 12:39 PM
I tried to watch all 6 parts but by the time I got 1/2 way through part 2 I forgot what was in part 1 and had to start over!
Posted by Expat47 in Athens, Greece on 02/03/10 at 01:42 PM
alzheimers is to the mind as cancer is to the body. but with alzheimers, after a certain point, the pain is endured more by the loved ones than the patient. to be allowed to choose to die before a terminal illness decimates body and/or mind should be a right. that said, my concern is that somehow it will become a decision made by beaurocrat for reasons of cost-effectiveness. if you don't think that can happen, there are states in the u.s. that, through medicaid(health care for low income), are refusing to cover the cost of chemotherapy but approving the cost of drugs prescribed to commit suicide.
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 02/03/10 at 06:18 PM
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.