Martin Amis told the Guardian: “What we need to recognise is that certain lives fall into the negative, where pain hugely dwarfs those remaining pleasures that you may be left with. Geriatric science has been allowed to take over and, really, decency roars for some sort of correction.” He said his comments were meant to be “satirical”, rather than “glib”.
His stance on euthanasia had hardened since the deaths of his stepfather, Lord Kilmarnock, the former SDP peer and writer, in March aged 81, and his friend Dame Iris Murdoch, the novelist, in 1999, aged 79, two years after her husband revealed that she was suffering from Alzheimer’s.
“I increasingly feel that religion is so deep in our constitution and in our minds and that is something we should just peel off,” he said. “Of course euthanasia is open to abuse, in that the typical grey death will be that of an old relative whose family gets rid of for one reason or another, and they’ll say ‘he asked me to do it’, or ‘he wanted to die’, Amis said. “That’s what we will have to look out for. Nonetheless, it is something we have to make some progress on…”
In his interview, Amis said his step father had died “very horribly”. “He always thought he was going to get better. But he didn’t get better and I think the denial of death is a great curse.”
He said Iris Murdoch, whom he had known for a very long time , was “a friend, I loved her. She was wonderful. I remember talking to her just as it started happening, and she said, ‘I’ve entered a dark place’. That famous quote. Awareness of loss is gone, the track is gone. You don’t know the day you’ve spent watching Teletubbies; it just vanished.”
The pro-euthanasia pressure group Dignity in Dying said: “Like all too many people in the UK, Martin Amis has witnessed the bad death of a loved one.” But, it added: “Dignity in Dying’s campaign for a change in the law is not about the introduction of ‘euthanasia booths’, nor is it in anticipation of a ‘silver tsunami’. Our campaign is about allowing dying adults who have mental capacity a compassionate choice to end their suffering, subject to strict legal safeguards.”
I think I’ll leave out my personal experiences with friends and family who wished for an opportunity if needed. Not much different from those contained in the article – which you should read.