Death is the one great leveller. We are all going to die; and when it seems that some people seem to have escaped from the Grim Reaper, that is when the blade swings forward. But death is also kind; it can relieve unbearable pain and suffering, it can end years of mental torture through the savage but random infliction of a mental illness or a physical illness which removes all physical control whilst leaving mental powers intact. From time immemorial, the death of a loved one has been a time of sadness, an acknowledgment of relief and a marker from whence those surviving can move on. Whether agnostic or deeply religious, the death of some one truly close has always been a time of solemnity, of an acknowledgment that the one who dies is but a traveller into a region from where there has never been any sign that this future place exists. All that the religions of this world offer is a promise, and, to me at least, the question always has to be asked, “How do you know?” The reply that all one has to do is to believe is but another promise.
While not subscribing to any faith or belief myself these days, and equally not wishing to deny the beliefs of billions of others, I would ask if many readers concur with my views that the proposed showing of the moments of the death of an Alzheimer sufferer is but a film clip too far? The wife of the dead man was interviewed on the radio, and has been prominent in both media interviews and commentary pieces; but her reasons for the national broadcast of her husband’s last moments are muddled and confused. She said she wants to highlight the total effects of Alzheimers’, and how it is not only a brain disease but also a physical one, as the brain functions close down, the patient literally starves to death, or suffers renal failure as their liver ceases working.
My own view is that the film sequence should be excised from the broadcast, as the dying man was not asked for his opinion, nor could he be, and his bereaved wife is surely the wrong person to give assent for such a travesty to be shown on television.