e-mail gill@willtolive.co.uk

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Disability not a fate worse than death, Handover in Iraq and others

01 July 2004

Victims of the myth that disability is a fate worse than death

Sir: Shame on us indeed that the Stokes had to go to Switzerland to die ("Couple who died in Swiss suicide clinic 'not terminally ill' ", 23 June).

Shame on us that they had to go into a care home because their health was deteriorating. Shame on us that such a devoted couple thought they would have to be cared for separately and therefore could no longer stay together. Shame on us that their mental health was not looked after better so that depression was unmanageable and suicide longed for. Shame on our health and social services for not caring better for them and for Mr Byre (letter, 28 June). But most of all shame on our society and all those able-bodied members of it who continually spread the rumour that being ill or disabled is a fate worse than death.

I have been disabled since birth and now have a second disability that is progressively robbing me of what physical abilities I did have. Yet I love life. I have managed to find different ways of doing things and press-ganged into use every bit of technology I could lay my hands on. But above all I have learnt, relearnt and learnt again that my physical abilities, or lack of them, don't determine the sort of person I am or my value. I can think, love and care about the people around me. I can create pictures, essays, stories, dances, films, pieces for theatre. And when I can't actually do these myself I can tell other people how to do them for me.

Life is valuable I don't want to lose it. I want to make the most of every little bit I've got.

Aston Clinton, Buckinghamshire