Martin Manley’s suicide is, to say the least, unusual. To be frank, I’m not quite sure how I feel about it. Here is a man, who, according to CNN, planned his own suicide to the most minute detail, including leaving detailed instructions for family, an intricate website which he named “martinmanleylifeanddeath.com”. At the time of this blog, the site has been taken down by Yahoo, although Mr. Manley’s sister, Barbara Flick is petitioning to have it reinstated. CNN’s coverage included a quote from the currently unavailable website:
“Let me ask you a question,” Manley wrote on his website, which he divided into 34 categories and 44 subcategories. “After you die, you can be remembered by a few-line obituary for one day in a newspaper when you’re too old to matter to anyone anyway … OR you can be remembered for years by a site such as this. That was my choice and I chose the obvious.”
You can read the article from CNN.com here.
In a time when there is a national urgency to talk about death, plan ahead for medical illness, share one’s wishes and reform end-of-life care, perhaps Mr. Manley’s blog serves as, dare I say it, an example. I’m definitely NOT saying that the suicide itself sets an example, but perhaps instead that Mr. Manley’s plan and apparent willingness to confront mortality is something that is, well, inspiring.
A man named Doug Gosling, who sadly passed away on May 30, 2012, blogged his battle with prostate cancer quite nobly through his website “Dying Digitally”. By choosing to confront his mortality, Doug found peace at the end of life. His final blog post, called “Goodbye From Doug” was posted by his wife, Dianne, the morning after he died. It eloquently speaks to his loved ones, his blog followers and certainly to himself, as well. Dying Digitally is a beautiful tribute to Doug Gosling’s life.
There are others, too, who are, right this very moment, blogging their battles, both victories and losses with terminal disease. While some may not understand the need to share these incredibly personal experiences, others are inspired and, importantly, informed.
The news of Mr. Manley’s suicide is a terrible tragedy that will likely be fleeting in the media, yet the blog he left behind, I hope, will remain. I look forward to reading it, and perhaps it will inspire others to think about mortality and consider planning for unexpected tragedy or advanced illness.
The Last Wish Compass is a discussion guide I created to help people navigate the difficult discussion about end-of-life care. Although Mr. Manley wasn’t terminally ill, he provided his family with a Compass of sorts, via his blog, and I hope that they are more at peace with his choice as a result.