9 3 mins 15 yrs

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.

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9 thoughts on “Certification class “z”

  1. "In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes". Andy Warhol.

    It seems that even the dying get a look-in now. Odd?

    Not really; in by-gone centuries death was seen merely as a natural progression from one life to another, but in a post-Christian era it is seen as ‘The Last Enemy’.

  2. Death is a private matter, not a public display. The clip should most definitely shown matter.It’s voyeurism for our media is everything generation.

  3. Death comes to us all and yet it is shrouded in secrecy. It is the great unknown. I believe we should recognise death as part of the process of living and cease hiding it away. This does not mean that death should be a voyeuristic event but that it shold be recognised and treated with a quiet dignity. I have met possible death on four occasions and, strangely, it was not frightening.

  4. David,

    A motorway smashup, a heart attack and angioplasty that went wrong, major heart surgery and later unexplained cerebral symptoms requiring a brain scan and transfer to a specialist hospital. All of these seperate instances may well have had a fatal outcome and I knew it – but strangely the feeling was of resignation rather than fear. Make of that what you will.

  5. David, Peter,

    Pardon me butting in on what seems to be as near a private conversation as one can have on a blog.

    Peter, I was surprised to read of your feeling of resignation, as you contemplated your imminent, or was it just possible? expiration. I can understand your feeling that way in the latter case, but not the former. A touch of that ‘Que sera, sera!’ feeling being entirely appropriate, where a chance of survival is seen as possible.

    Having spoken to quite a few who have had a similar experience, they all mentioned a feeling of anger at the prospect, none expressed resignation. All were victims of a sudden and unexpected heart attack, and did not expect to survive the experience.

    One thing is certain, a ‘near death’ experience always changes your outlook! – yes, and sometimes even for the better! Emotions seem to be heightened, and, on recovery, any fear of death is much diminished.

    Facing one’s own mortality is one of life’s lessons that we can, and should be prepared to learn at any age. It certainly adds a strand of humility to any personae…let’s hope that we are allowed to learn that lesson in dignified circumstances.

    Back to the thread…
    Showing such a piece on TV will do nothing to promote any understanding of Alzheimer’s, and is most definitely ‘a step too far’.

    To understand Alzheimer’s, you need to experience living with someone who suffers with it. Such TV programmes do nothing other than to trivialise the problem.

    Given that most people will go out of their way to avoid the very old, why would they wish to see one dying, in such an undignified way, other than as a voyeuristic excercise?

    Once again, apologies for interrupting…

  6. Great post Mike. I agee that the sequence should be cut, in the interests of the dignity of the dying man.

    Alzeimhers is going to be an increasing burden in the years to come, until a cure is found. Like cancer, it is mostly a disease of age and its increase is a consequence of our increased lifespans.

  7. I do believe that many of us try to hide from death, something that comes for us all. That said while I agree we need to accept death as a natural part of life this is a step too far.

    My grandfather had Alzeimhers so I know what a slow, soul destroying experience this is for the family but more so the poor soul with it. The anger, the frustration, the little bit of hope and the constant suffering. The realisation that your loved one may never know who you are again.

    This tv clip can’t show any of that, only those who have been through that experience with a loved one will understand the true effect of this disease.

    I find this voyeristic escapade disgusting.

  8. I’m completely appalled. Two of my family members and a close friend’s husband have suffered and died from Alzeimhers. It is an incredibly heartbreaking disease and intensely personal and devastaing for family members. I can’t imagine that my Great Grandmother would have been at all pleased to have been filmed in such a state then presented to the public. She would have died of mortification if she had known. We would never have disrespected her in this manner, we loved her too much.

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