Have you heard of Gillian Bennett?
I think you should.
She was a philosopher and psychotherapist from New Zealand, most recently living in Canada.
She had Alzheimer’s Disease, an affliction which can strip your very self. More than one of my loved ones have been afflicted, and I am probably genetically predisposed to it myself, so I certainly understand the horrors and indignities of the disease.
Well, Gillian Bennett weighed her options, and chose to end her life while she was still herself. I won’t walk through the arguments for and against here: I think she does a far better job than I could on this website, Dead at Noon. Her words hold particular weight because I know that she has acted on her convictions.
Here are some articles about Gillian’s choice and its connection to the larger social debate:
- Dying with Dignity article
- Edmonton Journal
- Globe and Mail
- National Post
- Vancouver Sun and here (with a video documenting her husband’s and children’s responses afterwards)
When the time comes – hopefully many decades from now – I certainly hope I can die with the same dignity and integrity that Gillian exhibited. And I hope that, by then, the law is such that all of my loved ones who wish to can be with me, and that they can provide what help I need.
How about you? Are there circumstances where you would want to have the freedom to choose death? Why or why not? Do you think others should have that freedom? How far should that freedom extend?