A Happy Death, In Freedom

To me, David Goodall’s choice of passing away, finally when he wanted to, is not morbid. Not morbid at all; it instead reminds me of Albert Camus’ posthumously published work, A Happy Death.

“Everyone over middle age should have the right unquestioned to end their lives as and when they choose, but we have quite a way to go in Australia for that,” he said.

On May 10, Professor David Goodall travelled to the Life Circle/ Eternal Spirit Foundation this morning for his final appointment. He was accompanied by his grandchildren and Eternal Spirit staff. He himself turned the wheel to allow the lethal dose of a barbiturate solution to flow into his arm.

David’s chosen music was the Ode to Joy of Beethoven’s 9th symphony. He died at the moment the Song (sung in German) concluded.

David has requested that his body be donated to medicine and, if not, that his ashes be sprinkled locally. He wishes to have no funeral, no remembrance service or ceremony.

He had no belief in the afterlife.

On the eve of his death, David Goodall, 104, Australian scientist, father, grandfather and right-to-die advocate, was asked if he had any moments of hesitation, “even fleeting ones.”

“No, none whatever,” Mr. Goodall said in a strong voice. “I no longer want to continue life, and I’m happy to have a chance tomorrow to end it.”

Mr. Goodall spoke on Wednesday before a phalanx journalists and photographers in Basel, Switzerland. That the inquisitors had come from around the globe to hear what would be most likely the last public words of the man once called Australia’s oldest working scientist was evidence that his campaign to end his life had captivated audiences worldwide.

“I’ve had a good life,” he said hours before his last moment.

Asked if there was anything he still wanted to do, he said: “There are many things I would like to do, of course, but it’s too late. I’m content to leave them undone.”

Pressed about what he would miss, he allowed, “I have been missing for a long time my journeys into the Australian countryside, but I haven’t been able to do that for quite a while”

He was asked about his last meal. “I’m rather limited in my culinary enjoyment nowadays,” he responded. “I don’t find that I can enjoy my meals as I used to.”

On Thursday, he received a fatal dose of a barbiturate intravenously. In order to comply with Swiss law that bans the interference of third parties in the process, he opened the valve to release the solution himself and fell asleep, dying soon after. Some of his grandchildren were with him in his final hours.

At one point, he was asked what tune he would choose for his last song, and he said the final movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Then he began to sing, with verve and vigor.

How would he like to be remembered ? “As an instrument of freeing the elderly from the need to pursue their life irrespective,” he said at the news conference on Wednesday.

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