Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Forward planning

On Saturday I was staying at my mum’s, reading the review part of her Times magazine - Melanie Reid’s Spinal Column where she talked about needing to plan for the end of our lives, and how she wants to see humane legislation on assisted suicide.

It wasn’t a depressing column - far from it. She said how much she loves her life, difficult though it is, but how she wants to plan for a pain free and happy end, and I totally agree with her.

Having recently lost someone very dear to me to suicide, it’s obviously made me think about the subject - not in too much detail: it’s still too raw for that. But I can understand why they did it. Or at least I can hazard a guess as to why.

Last night I watched The Imitation Game - an excellent piece of acting by Benedict Cumberbatch which was agonising towards the end. You could feel the poor man’s shame and anguish, disbelief and sense of betrayal; his sense of isolation and his utter powerlessness. It woke me in the night, and crept into my dreams.

The next night I dreamed about my late husband and his brother, at their workshop in Penryn. Pip had been very furtive, not like him at all, so I gave him a hug and said, "Why are you avoiding me? I'm your wife!" He replied, "I'm sorry, darling. I've been frightened of dying. I don't want to leave you."

I strongly believe it up to us to do what we want with our lives. I hope to make the best use of mine, but having suffered from depression, I know too well what it’s like to waste time: I’ve lost years of my life that I’m trying to make up. But if someone is in a lot of pain I quite understand not wanting to go on. We all want quality of life.

Melanie Reid mentioned a Professor David Clark at University of Glasgow, who wants to build a kind of university for the old, providing all types of housing needed from sheltered accommodation to hospice care, and forming a community with shops, learning spaces, cafes, libraries etc so that people can learn, get to know each other and have FUN. This seems the best idea possible and would re-educate us all to plan the end of our lives.

If I was a politician, I’d do anything I could to promote this. As I’m not, take a look at

We talk so much about all aspects of our lives, but most of us are too frightened to talk about the one certainty. It’s about time we removed the taboo and started speaking out. I can't help feeling it would lessen our fear.


Jane Westwell said...

A really interesting, thought-provoking post, Sue. Professor Clark's 'university for the old' sounds exactly the kind of environment we should be creating for all elderly people in need, at the last stage of their lives, though in the current financial climate it seems an impossible dream.

As you lost someone to suicide, I wonder if you also saw the searingly honest Angela Samata documentary on BBC1 last night? Called Life After Suicide, it looked at the experiences of several people who have lost loved ones to suicide and was deeply moving.


Angela stressed how important it was for us all to remove the taboos and talk, and your post eloquently echoes this. Thanks for sharing. Jane

Flowerpot said...

Thanks Jane - no I didn't see that it looks very interesting.

wannabe a writer said...

I completely agree. We allow our pets to have a dignified ending when their quality of life is no more, why not set up a legal system whereby our loved ones can safely be allowed that same dignity?

I also recently lost a friend to suicide, it leaves you feeling so helpless.

Every day should count but some people don't always have that option.

A very thought provoking post. Thank you.

Flowerpot said...

Thanks Wannabe.