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The Richard Dimbleby Lecture: Shaking Hands with Death


Carabosse e2
11 39.7k 269 England
3 Feb 2010 12:29AM
One thing made me a little sad, as I was watching this lecture and that was Terry Pratchett's stated wish to die with dignity:


Quote:When the time comes I'll sit on my lawn, brandy in hand and Thomas Tallis on my iPod. And then I'll shake hands with Death.


I kept thinking to myself: given the progressive nature of Alzheimer's will he even know he wants to die, in a few years time as his disease progresses, or will he become blissfully (?) unaware of his own condition and revert to the basic animal instinct of wanting to stay alive at all costs?

Given that he would want it to be his own decision, would he even be capable of making it? Is this another flaw in what he has proposed?

(Obviously the above is not applicable when someone is in incurable and agonising pain, but otherwise in full possession of their mental faculties).

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YorkshireSam e2
5 106 3 United Kingdom
3 Feb 2010 12:36AM
I got the feeling he had addressed the issue of capability as the disease progressed and his point was that it should be now ( before that happens ) that he should be allowed to put in place his arrangement with a medical pro to assist him when he (Terry ) feels he is ready to make that " handshake with death ".


PS I like the thought of him and any sufferer becoming blissfully unaware , that would mean the anguish was gone and he / they would already be at peace.
Carabosse e2
11 39.7k 269 England
3 Feb 2010 12:42AM

Quote:he should be allowed to put in place his arrangement with a medical pro to assist him when he (Terry ) feels he is ready to make that " handshake with death ".


Fine to put the practical arrangements in place but at what point would he feel ready, I wonder?

The Alzheimer's may develop to the extent to he may never actually feel ready. Which may mean a death with rather less dignity than the one he planned while he was still compos mentis.

It was clear he wants to live life to the full and had no plans to depart right now. Nor, I imagine, would he want to place the decision to die in the hands of anyone else; but that would be the only way to guarantee a dignified death.


Quote:I like the thought of him and any sufferer becoming blissfully unaware , that would mean the anguish was gone and he / they would already be at peace.


The stepfather of a neighbour of mine has Alzheimer's and decisions of any sort, let alone life or death ones, are way beyond his capability although he is physically fit and healthy. He also seems quite happy and totally unaware of his condition.

His poor wife, however, suffers the anguish and day to day battles to look after him although he is about as capable as a toddler now.
YorkshireSam e2
5 106 3 United Kingdom
3 Feb 2010 12:53AM
" His poor wife, however, suffers the anguish and day to day battles to look after him although he is about as capable as a toddler now."

a point not addressed very much in the debate but a very very relevant one.

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