Death as a Choice

Spoiler Alert: It is highly suggested that you first read Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You, just in case you haven’t yet, before you go on.

I was just done reading the book and I am struggling with great difficulty to keep the tears from falling. But anyway, this isn’t some sort of a book review. It’s more of sharing my perspective regarding the primary theme of the book, which is no less than a person’s right to die, and looking at it on a kind of intimate level- through the life of Will Traynor. And throwing out a little disclaimer out there, this is not an attempt to find moral redemption in defense of Will or whatsoever.

A little refresher: Will lived a big life- he’s smart and good-looking, he’s athletic, he had an illustrious career, he travelled a lot, and he loved adventures. He was born to wealthy parents and he’s used to having his way- not in a bratty sense but in a way that things he want seem to be falling upon his lap mostly because he has made himself a great guy. He had a girlfriend who was as perfect as what his life used to be. Then, the accident happened. He became permanently damaged- he can never make use of everything from chest down except from slightly moving his fingers on one hand. Two years later, Will decided that he wanted to die.

I believe that the choice really is up to Will. And it is just right to leave him to the end he had chosen for himself. When I lost the one thing which I believed is my only ticket to the life I have dreamt of for myself, I wanted to die. I cannot picture myself doing something else for the rest of my days, and I wouldn’t. And the funny thing is I only had to let it slip for a year. Given that we are never entirely sure of the future, and mine may hold a dozen more obstacles to hinder me from achieving the life I’ve wanted, I had and still have countless chances. Even if I don’t end up being what I have pictured myself to become, there are so many paths that I could possibly take, most of which could potentially make me feel happy and whole in the long run. And despite knowing all these, grief still got the better of me. During those darkest moments, I was sure I no longer wanted to continue. My moments are still kind of dark, and having known what it felt like to be someone with nothing to lose, I think I stopped fearing death. It’s not everyday that I’m ready to face death, though. It just feels like from that moment on, I am a little bit more prepared for the day. If I felt like that over something that would look petty in the grand scheme of things, I never wondered why Will knew what choice to make. Even after Lou.

Ironically, even if it was Will who’d eventually die and cease to exist, I think this choice was easiest for him. It’s not too hard to put myself in Will’s shoes. I know I’d never fully understand how much he had suffered, and even so, I already fully understood what he chose for himself and why. What I cannot imagine is being Lou, Steven, Georgina, and, most of all, Camilla. I cannot fully absorb how it would be to allow the person you love to choose to die. Sometimes, or maybe most of the time, it’s easier to fight the battle than to surrender. And this time, letting go means no more going back. It’s locking doors and throwing the keys.

It wasn’t easy being Steven or Georgina, having a son or a brother committing suicide with you allowing it to happen. But they had full lives ahead of themselves, even Steven despite his age, and they could surely move on. It may take time, months or years maybe, but they would. It was perhaps more difficult to be Lou- imagine meeting the one true love of your life who understood and saw you in a way that nobody else did or ever would, throwing the life you’ve always known and grown comfortable with out the window all because of this person, and, in the end, never being enough for that one person to change his mind. Then again, Will made a mark on Lou’s life, and this mark would allow Lou to live a much different and better life, a life that Lou has always deserved. Will paved a whole new road for Lou, and she has so much in store for her even after Will. However, the tragedy of being Camilla is beyond words. Camilla has always held back but I don’t think she actually wanted to. I think she just felt that being more intimate or involved would hurt more than it would help. Though at the end, Will asked for his family after he shared his last few moments with Lou. And I’d like to think that the distance between Will and Steven, Georgina, and especially Camilla was braved and given proper closure.

Despite ultimately agreeing to Will, in the course of reading the book, I admit that I wasn’t completely into his choice. Just like the people who loved him deeply, I wanted him to choose life over death even if it means no chance of him getting better. It was utterly heartbreaking. Yet, when he said that this is the only thing left he had a control over ever since the accident, I knew that to accept Will’s decision for himself was the best thing someone who loves him could do for him.

Will wasn’t selfish or too proud to accept his fate. It’s not about Will, and his family as well as Lou for that matter, being right or wrong. It’s about being human. And that, more than anything, is what we should be after all.

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6 thoughts on “Death as a Choice

  1. I need to read this, being very interested in the right to die.
    “I cannot fully absorb how it would be to allow the person you love to choose to die.” – I can, and I will do it. I am going to do it for the same reason I will not force a girl I love to have sex with me. i respect them, not even because I love them but because they’re humans like me. They never chose to be born, so they must be allowed to choose to die if they wish. Life isn’t always good in and of itself.

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    • Thank you for your thoughts about this. I admire you greatly because it would surely take a lot of courage to do what you would. Truly, we must allow ourselves and the people around us to be human. That’s what we are after all. Yet, I just want to point out that I think it is always best to try every possible thing to make them change their mind (like what Lou and Will’s family did). And if all efforts fail and they are still determined to do it, then that’s when we should allow it to happen. Also, we must be sure that they’re not suffering from depression or something like it because if that’s the case, they should be cured. They must be allowed to choose to die only when we are sure that they are choosing it with a mind that’s well. Because if they are suffering from a mental illness like depression, then it wouldn’t really be their choice. Thank you again and I’m hoping to hear more from you.

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      • “Also, we must be sure that they’re not suffering from depression” – Depression is a valid reason to die. It’s one of the best reasons to die. Depression cannot be cured. You can only learn to live with it. It’s inhuman to force someone to cope with it.
        A person who chooses to die because of a mental illness is no different than choosing to die because of a break-up, or terminal illness, or another person’s suicide, or PTSD, or unemployment. All of these are things which we don’t have to live with. If we don’t want the life we’ve been forced into, we should be allowed to die.
        We reject people every day for all kinds of reasons. So how is rejecting our own life any different?
        “Yet, I just want to point out that I think it is always best to try every possible thing to make them change their mind” – Let’s switch this around. A guy tries everything possible to make a girl fall in love with him. Is it okay? Or is he becoming a creepy, overly-attached person who leans towards being abusive?
        Life isn’t desirable, in and of itself. That’s what anti-suicide people don’t understand.

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      • I do get your point but it doesn’t mean that I accept it wholly. While I respect your belief that a person has the right to die at any given point, I believe that it should always be the last resort and, as much as possible, should not even be among the options. Life is a sacred gift. Besides, once you commit suicide, there’s no turning back. Yes, it is a person’s right to die. But we must also recognize that every right has a corresponding responsibility. Nothing is absolute, even and most especially freedom. It’s not just black and white. We are swimming in a sea of gray. I guess we can just agree to disagree. This discussion is stimulating and it is really good to have different points of view on important matters like this one.

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      • It is black and white in many cases. After all, we don’t think person A has to give a chance to Person B just because B is sexually attracted to A. We say ‘bodily autonomy’, so no matter how many niceness coins you put in, no one owes you sex. People being attracted to you is also a gift, yet A rejects the gift. Why can’t a suicidal person?

        Once you force a child to existence, there’s no turning back either.

        Why is life a gift? Is life of a depressed person a gift, despite not being able to enjoy it? Is life of a disabled person a gift, despite living as an outcast? Is life of a person born in a war-torn country a gift?

        Basically, imagine your worst nightmare. Then ask yourself whether you’d prefer that or to die.

        Just because you’re attracted to Person A doesn’t mean everyone should have sex with him/her. Just because you love life doesn’t mean everyone should. No matter how good the intentions (Suicide prevention has good intentions, but rape-like behavior in practice), suicide prevention is villified in the suicide community. If I were a volunteer and read how much they hate me from preventing suicide, why, I’d break down.

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      • Life is a gift because it means you still have it in you to turn the tables no matter how dire the circumstances may seem. It’s not about A giving B a chance because A felt obliged to. It’s about B showing all the options that A has which A may not even recognize. It’s about B asking A to go on a dinner date with him/her, watch a movie, go mountain climbing or deep-sea diving. A, of course, has every right to decline. And B, on the other hand, has all the freedom to offer what he/she has. In the book, Lou did everything to change Will’s mind (with the support of Will’s family and his personal nurse, Nathan, of course). Yes, Will still chose to die. But the 6 months he spent with Lou was, according to Will himself, the best 6 months of his life. See, it’s not black and white in a sense that Will still chose to die but he was able to feel genuine happiness even after his tragedy all because the people who love him dearly did everything they can for Will. I don’t agree that it’s “rape-like”, as you put it, to try to make another person happy because the other person can always say no. It’s not like you’re carving a smile on the other person’s face with a knife. That is the gray- the story behind it, the love beyond all the hurt. It’s not just black and white, nothing ever is. And let us not allow ourselves to always see just that, the black and white. There is so much gray, or better, there is a burst of colors. And I’m sorry but I can’t fight the urge to say this, but only a Sith deals in absolutes.

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