FMP Script – Draft 1- The Right to Die

The process of gathering, creating, selecting, researching and sequencing continues. A next step is to start drafting a set of words that can be used to go with, around, before or after the images. No decisions other than use of voiceover and other media is to be used with the intent of enhancing the visual experience of the work.

Draft 1

L – ‘Thank you for being the most amazing part of my life. You are my soulmate, best friend and made me who I am. I am so lucky to have had you in my life. I love you forever my Darling.’

K – ‘I love you too darling. No woman was ever loved more than you have loved me.’

L – ‘I will be joining you soon.’

K – ‘Not too soon I hope. Have some fun and give me a bit of a break. After all, for me, it has been forty long long years!”

L – ‘Ha ha and for me it went in a blink. You will be with me always and every day every bird I see will be part of you. I love you so much.’

K – ‘Love you darling. Look after the boys for me.’

Every Bird I See Will be Part of You

Thirty minutes later Karen, my wife and soulmate of forty years, died peacefully in a blue house on an industrial estate in Pfaffikon in Switzerland. It is the morning of January 27th, 2020 and her wishes have been met. After years of insufferable pain and in the end almost total paralysis she has died with Dignity with the help of Dignitas in Switzerland.

Blue House – Pfaffikon

This was a moment in which I was perplexed and faced a gargantuan loss. The person who meant more to me than anything else in the world wanted to end her pain and suffering and it was too early for me to lose her. She did not want to live completely paralysed and in pain and took a brave and strong decision that she wished to end her life. I was not involved in her decision but said I would support any decision she took. I desperately miss her.

After she died and I returned home some were shocked when I described it as a ‘beautiful way to die.’ What I meant by this was that her wishes were being met, her pain would be over, she was surrounded by those who loved her and she was at ease. The staff at Dignitas were outstanding and spiritual in the way they went about their role. They repeatedly asked Karen if she was sure she wanted to do this and must feel free to change her mind. Every time she said ‘I am absolutely sure. I want this pain to be over. Please, please as soon as we can.’

Where people die with dignity

Liai Abril has presented a bold and confident documentary ‘On Abortion’ as Chapter One within her wider work ‘A History of Misogyny.’ In it she documents and raises awareness of the horrific risks and consequences for women who wish to abort but live in countries where abortion is illegal. Barbaric procedures continue today. It shocked me to hear Mike Pence refer to legitimate rape ‘In Congress, Pence co-sponsored a bill that would have redefined rape and limited federal funding for abortion to women who suffered “forcible rape”—what Akin famously described as “legitimate rape” ‘ (The Nation). Sadly he is not alone and many believe has the support of Donald Trump.

Laia Abril

Laia’s work made me ask if I should be equally bold about the rights of people suffering at the end of life to choose when to end their life. I have lived with someone suffering for thirty years with Multiple Sclerosis getting worse year by year. I wanted her to live but in the end understood the suffering she was experiencing was something she no longer had the energy to continue with. She was looking at a slow death of up to twenty years during which time her internal organs and muscles would become paralysed. Eventually she would die unable to breath. Or she could choose to end her suffering.

The map here shows the scale of the issue. There are fewer countries permitting assisted suicide than there are that allow abortion. My view is that under carefully controlled laws and regulations there are cases where a human being in immense suffering should be allowed to make the choice to end their life with dignity. The laws in Switzerland and the procedures followed by Dignitas are a good model to be copied.

Countries where Euthanasia is or has been allowed

None of this has been easy for me. I have been close to suicide myself on three occasions. I saw myself as a failure for not finding a cure for the love of my life and not finding a way for her to die in her own bed at the end of her life. After she died I became seriously depressed and have had to work with my doctor, a therapist and antidepressants to get through the grief.

Karen’s decision was sound. She took her decision in June 2019 with two friends who had worked through the issue with her. She told me in early August 2019. She had been in touch with Dignitas since 2015. She had attempted suicide and failed in 2010. The Dignitas process is incredibly detailed and all the time focusses on encouraging the member to find a way to live. A full psychiatric assessment is required along with detailed medical records covering twenty years of her life.

From the moment she took the decision until January 27th this year she never wavered. Two days before she went to Switzerland I said I was finally becoming calm about the decision. I had been trying to think of other solutions that would be acceptable to her. She said ‘it is not your decision and you would not be able to change my mind.’

Our children Alex, Tom and Dan supported her decision and understood. All of our friends, including strongly religious people, understood what she wanted to do and why. Her carers and medical staff admired how she had fought on for so long and fully supported her decision.

Those who argue against the right to die claim it is God’s will or that too many will be killed by their relatives for money. Usually those who argue the case do not represent the view of the people who put them in power.

Guardian 2019

References

Abril, Laia. 2018. A History of Misogyny. Chapter One – On Abortion. [online] available at https://www.laiaabril.com/project/on-abortion/ (Accessed: July 24th, 2020)

The Nation. 2016. Mike Pence is a Smooth Talking Todd Akin. [online] available at ://www.thenation.com/article/archive/mike-pence-is-a-smooth-talking-todd-akin/ (Accessed: 24th July, 2020).

Images

Euthanasia Map. [online]. Available in Wikipedia at https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euthanasia#/media/File:Euthanasia_and_the_Law.png (accessed: July 24th, 2020).

The Guardian. 2019. Legalise assisted dying for terminally ill, say 90% of people in UK. [online] Available at https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/mar/03/legalise-assisted-dying-for-terminally-ill-say-90-per-cent-of-people-in-uk (Accessed: 24th July, 2020)

Categories: Final Major Project, Positions and Practice, Project Development FMP

LEN

I am a Photographer. As well as taking many photographs I am currently studying for an MA in Photography at Falmouth University. I will direct my attention through the lens of my camera for the next couple of years and see what shows up. I see a photograph as a little bit of magic capturing a moment in time. If successful it surprises and engages your emotions. It tells a story about the wonders of being alive or tells us what we need to change to make it a better world to live in. That is enough for me to get going and then like walking a 1000 miles, which I did across the UK in 2010, or walking 200 miles across Cyprus, which I did in November last year, it is one step at a time.

I was a writer. The title of my unpublished book was ‘You Would Have Done The Same.' It is about a successful guy in love with his wife who lets her die when he discovers her in the process of committing suicide. The title gives a clue as to what I think you would have done. The book is 200 pages long. I found it cathartic to write it but after two years of work and reviewing with agents decided it probably needed another 2000 hours to get the whole book up to the standard of some of the pages. Writing is great but it is a lot of sitting down so I decided to get out and walk, play tennis, play bridge, go birding, watch football at Nottingham Forest, Arsenal and Valencia and anywhere else if I can, meditate, cook and eat. I was a writer who has so far failed to become an author.
I was a young man who loved Mathematics and thoroughly enjoyed getting a BSc at Liverpool University. While there I went often to Anfield and the Philharmonic Hall. I was all set on doing a PhD until I went for interview practice at BP and got seduced by the excitement of an International business career. BP was a great adventure building trading teams and businesses in London, Antwerp, Cleveland Ohio and Singapore. Fabulous people and some great challenges and also very hard work, constant jet lag and lots of fun along the way. I married Karen, my stunning wife, and had the most amazing time with her and our three boys Alex, Tom and Dan. She has multiple sclerosis and we have taken on many challenges together but somehow keep creating a new normal against the horrors thrown our way. She is the love of my life.

After BP I decided to coach senior executives and quickly realized I had a lot to learn
about what makes people tick. I had a fantastic 18 months on the International Programme of the Cleveland Gestalt Institute. A great faculty and a
wonderful group of people on the programme. We studied and worked in Dingle, Singapore, Holland, Cape Town and
Lisbon. This also got me interested in the way we think and make decisions so I studied for an MSc in Psychology atUniversity College London in 2010. The
Masters was in Cognitive and Decision Sciences and I found it fascinating what
we do know but also how much we don’t know about how we think and make
decisions.

I loved coaching and making a difference. I got a number of people to hear themselves, remove some of their own chains and free up the way they thought about the world. I remain fascinated by how people react to and engage with the world. My Masters thesis was why do two people given the same information make different decisions? Put simply, it is because each of us are unique in the way we are constructed.

Since returning from Singapore I found English winters tough so moved to Spain where I now live. The people are lovely, the scenery amazing, food delicious and the sun shines all the time. Almost.

All of these experiences will feed in to my time now as a Photographer. Three motivations I am lucky to have are enthusiasm, curiosity and a continuous interest in learning. All the time I look forward to meeting old friends and making new friends and experiencing this wonderful life together.