‘Sorrow that finds no vent in tears may make other organs weep’
Sir Henry Maudsley, 1835 – 1918
According to the British Pain Society, almost 10 million Britons suffer pain almost daily resulting in a major impact on their quality of life and more days off work at a cost estimated at around £5billion per annum, with around 20% of all new consultations involving pain. Long term pain is both disabling and distressing. The story of Gill Pharoah, a former palliative care nurse who passed away at the age of 75 at an assisted dying clinic in Switzerland in 2015 with chronic back pain raises important questions about euthanasia and the traumas that can come with old age not just in the context of terminal illness, but also for conditions which can ruin people’s quality of life. It also raises important questions about ageism and how society values elderly people.