Quality of Life, according to Death

Maybe it’s because of Christmas, the time that makes you think about your beloved ones, especially those that are missing. Yeah, it’s that time of the year.

From all the people that died this year Terry Pratchett was one of a kind. He was kind, noble and a fantastic writer who not only respected his fans but gave them a feeling that he understands and loves them. The fact that he had a bunch of wonderful people he called his friends and that his family stood close beside him in happy and in dark times showed what a great person he was in real life.

In the later years – after he got diagnosed Alzheimer’s – he fought for the dignity of deciding the way of dying when a person was still able to decide. We all know what Alzheimer does to people and after watching the movie “Still Alice” we saw quite exceptionally that this is one of the illnesses where you as a patient really have difficulties in understanding the people that help you because you are the one forgetting.

I remember it well – I was standing at Heathrow Airport, waiting for the gate to open and spending my time in a small book store. There between the bestsellers of the week I found a very small book, titled “Shaking Hands with Death” by Terry Pratchett. I’ve known about the BBC broadcast but I haven’t heard it then. This gave me the opportunity to read it during the flight. It is a short one, but the impact was amazing, knowing the story and the cornerstones it made me cry. 

In the end there was one passage that made me think about life and not about death.

“It’s that much heralded thing, the quality of life, that is important. How you live your life, what you get out of it, what you put into it and what you leave behind after it. We should aim for a good and rich life well lived and, at the end of it, in the comfort of our own home, in the company of those who love us, have a death worth dying for.”
by Terry Pratchett


Yeah, that’s it, right to the point. By reading it again and remembering how I met this nice and kind guy in Vienna, while signing some of his books to fans some tears run down my cheeks.

It doesn’t sound hard, spend each day with joyful moments, together with loved-ones, with friends and family. Make the world a better place – everyone can do it. There is no need to travel to faraway countries somewhere distant to help kids. Give people a smile each day and that can mean a lot. Giving them honest attention is even more. Yes, it can be that easy. Life is not happening behind a desk, it’s happening right out there and if humanity starts to change it’s perspective then there is even more to hope for.

Terry Pratchett was one of those who gave his readers amazing stories, filled with wonderful characters and funny moments. This was his present to the world, and that’s what I’m grateful for, knowing that I’m not alone.

Thank you.


“Terry finally shook hands with Death on 12 March 2015. His was a peaceful end, surrounded by his family, and with Pogo – his beloved tabby cat – dutifully sleeping at the food of his bed. He didn’t want unnecessary care, he didn’t want tubes and pipes keeping him alive; he wanted all of us to have the option of dying with dignity at a time of our own choosing. And wether you share Terry’s views and opinions or not, there is no doubt that his was a life well lived.”
From the Introduction of Rob Wilkins

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