A week of book reviews – ‘Shaking Hands With Death’ by Terry Pratchett #BookReview #FridayReads

I have been absolutely snowed under with work over the last few weeks – not that I’m complaining – and although I’ve been reading as much as I can, I haven’t got round to reviewing. So this week I’m determined to catch up with a review a day.

Why we all deserve a life worth living and a death worth dying for

‘Most men don’t fear death. They fear those things – the knife, the shipwreck, the illness, the bomb – which precede, by microseconds if you’re lucky, and many years if you’re not, the moment of death.’

When Terry Pratchett was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in his fifties he was angry – not with death but with the disease that would take him there, and with the suffering disease can cause when we are not allowed to put an end to it. In this essay, broadcast to millions as the BBC Richard Dimblebly Lecture 2010 and previously only available as part of A Slip of the Keyboard, he argues for our right to choose – our right to a good life, and a good death too.

It never ceases to amaze me that we deny people the right to choose their own death, that, as with so many things here in the UK and the USA, the opinions and religious beliefs of the minority are allowed to dictate the way others must live and die. It’s an absolute disgrace that people are forced to suffer – and for no reason at all.

The debate about assisted dying has been rumbling on for years, the same tired arguments trotted out by the same people. Terry Pratchett, with his customary warmth, intelligence and humour, takes those arguments apart one by one. How anyone can read this and still think their beliefs trump his wishes and those wishes of many like him beggars belief.

Worth reading too simply because, as expected, the writing is beautiful.

Available from Hive.

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