Shaking Hands With Death

Abby Zimet

Amidst a fiery debate in the U.K. over assisted suicide, writer Terry Pratchett, who has early-onset Alzheimer's disease, makes the case for what he prefers to call "assisted death" or "a mercy tribunal." He cites the state of mind – "level, realistic, pragmatic, stoic and sharp" – of those he knows who want their death "to be on their own terms."

"I vowed that rather than let Alzheimer's
take me, I would take it. I would live my life as ever to the full and
die, ­before the disease mounted its last ­attack, in my own home, in a
chair on the lawn, with a brandy in my hand...If I knew that I could die, I would live."

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