Author Wendy Mitchell issues plea for 'choice of how we die' as she announces her death after battle with dementia

22 February 2024, 17:55 | Updated: 22 February 2024, 18:11

Author Wendy Mitchell
Author Wendy Mitchell. Picture: Family Handout
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Author Wendy Mitchell issued a heartbreaking plea for a "choice of how we die" in her final message, which has been published after she died following a battle with dementia.

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Mitchell, 68, was diagnosed with early onset vascular dementia and Alzheimer's in 2014, aged 58.

At the time, she was working as a rota manager in the NHS, but quickly rose to prominence as an author and became a best-seller with Somebody I Used To Know.

In a posthumous post shared by her daughters online, Mitchell argued "it’s amazing how such little value is placed on the act of dying" given that 100 per cent of the population will be affected by it.

“Sadly assisted dying isn’t an option in this country. With something that will affect 100 per cent of the population, regardless of wealth, intelligence or ethnicity, it’s amazing how such little value is placed on the act of dying," she wrote.

Wendy Mitchell has died aged 68
Wendy Mitchell has died aged 68. Picture: Family Handout

“For those that have read my book, One Last Thing, you will understand why I feel so strongly about assisted dying," Mitchell went on.

"The only legal choice we shouldn’t have in life is when to be born; for everything else, we, as humans, should have a choice; a choice of how we live and a choice of how we die.”

It comes amid growing calls for a change in the law on assisted dying, after TV legend Esther Rantzen, who has lung cancer, revealed she has signed up to Dignitas.

Dame Esther has launched a campaign for a law change, with MPs conceding that it is time for a new debate on the subject.

Read More: ‘Dogs get treated better than humans’, Esther Rantzen says, as TV legend demands assisted dying law change

Read More: Tearful Carol Vorderman shares her assisted dying wishes with heart-wrenching story of her mum's final days

Speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said she had spoken to people in her constituency in favour of assisted dying.

"I think it is a topic that is often discussed. I quite often have home surgeries here and they will invariably be with someone who is elderly and almost all the people I go and see are in favour of this campaign for assisted dying," she said.

"It is a conversation that is happening and obviously Dame Esther has her campaign, as others have in the past, and I'm sure that will mean that there will be a debate brought to Parliament."It has been debated in the past, but I’m sure that there will be further conversations."

Wendy Mitchell on living with dementia

In the posthumous letter, Mitchell revealed she started to refuse to eat or drink.

“If you’re reading this, it means this has probably been posted by my daughters as I’ve sadly died,” she wrote.

“In the end I died simply by deciding not to eat or drink any more,” Mitchell continued.

“The last cuppa tea … my final hug in a mug, the hardest thing to let go of, much harder than the food I never craved … This wasn’t decided on a whim of self pity as you’ll discover by reading on.

“Dementia is a cruel disease that plays tricks on your very existence. I’ve always been a glass half full person, trying to turn the negatives of life around and creating positives, because that’s how I cope.

“Well I suppose dementia was the ultimate challenge.

“Yes, dementia is a bummer, but oh what a life I’ve had playing games with this adversary of mine to try and stay one step ahead.”

The revelation of her death comes a week before her next book, One Last Thing: Living With The End In Mind, is due to be released.

She also penned What I Wish I Knew About Dementia in 2022.