Study Guide

Me Before You Mortality

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No, it was the livid red lines scoring Will's wrists, the long jagged scars that couldn't be disguised, no matter how swiftly Nathan pulled down Will's sleeves. (5.171)

This is the moment when Lou realizes that Will has attempted suicide—which explains his mother's insistence that she not leave him alone for an extended period of time. Lou knew he was having trouble adapting to his new life, but she never suspected that he'd do something like that.

This is not the life I chose. There is no prospect of my recovery, hence it is a perfectly reasonable request to ask to end it in a manner I see fit. (8.49)

To Will, his decision to end his life is simple: he can't live without hope for recovery. Suicide is an awful thing, and something that should never be discussed lightly, but Will's situation makes the debate more complicated than it is normally depicted.

How could this man whose skin I had felt that morning under my fingers—warm, and alive—choose to just extinguish himself? (9.5)

Lou, like most of us, has a hard time understanding Will's desire to go to an assisted suicide facility like Dignitas. Living life as a quadriplegic is challenging, without a doubt, but he can learn to adapt, right? While most people can live full lives in the aftermath of such injuries, it's clear that Will feels himself incapable of doing so.

And yet, there was something else in her expression when she spoke; something that [...] told of a deep, deep relief.

"He finally looked like Leo again." (14.156-157)

The story of the young footballer who commits assisted suicide at Dignitas gets to the heart of this very controversial issue. On the one hand, it's tragic whenever anyone makes the choice to end his or her own life, regardless of circumstances. On the other hand, the situation gets more complicated when the person in question might commit suicide in a much less humane way otherwise.

"I...I can't judge him for what he want to do. It's his choice. It should be his choice." (22.105)

Unlike Lou, Nathan has some understanding for Will's decision to go to Dignitas. He doesn't exactly support it, but he knows that no one can make that choice but Will himself.

"No. I want him to live."


"But I want him to live if he wants to live." (22.120-122)

This is the heart of the issue. Out of their love for Will, his parents and Lou want to keep him alive at all costs, but they don't take into account what he wants. This is not necessarily to support his decision, but simply to explain it.

"And if you do love me, Clark [...] the thing that would make me happier than anything is if you would come with me." (23.166)

That's a lot to ask from someone. But what else is Lou supposed to do? Ignore his request? Leave him alone? Forget that she ever met him? It's a hard thing to watch a loved one make such a serious decision, but if there's nothing she can do to change his mind, she might as well give him as much support as possible before it happens.

"There are a host of conditions encroaching on me. I can feel it. I don't want to be in pain anymore, or trapped in this thing, or dependent on everyone, or afraid." (23.169)

Will doesn't merely live with the knowledge that he'll never recover—he also has to face the prospect that he'll most likely get sicker and sicker over time. It's easy to point fingers and judge him for his decision to end his own life, but it's valuable to put yourself in his shoes and think about how profoundly such a thing would affect you.

"But his parents! They can't let him kill himself," said Mum. "What kind of people are they?" (25.89)

Of course, what Mrs. Clark doesn't know is how hard his parents have fought to keep Will alive, and how all of those efforts have failed to make an impact on him. It's a tough decision on their part, but they were essentially left without options.

I hope that one day [...] you will see not just that I could only have done the thing that I did, but also that this will help you live a really good life, a better life, than if you hadn't met me (e.20)

This comes from a letter that Will wrote to Lou before his death. Lou is still struggling with a whirlwind of emotions—grief, anger, guilt, and sadness, to name a few—and she probably can't see the light at the end of the tunnel quite yet. But we think she'll get there. Although loving Will has caused her a great deal of pain, it's also opened her up to a whole new way of seeing the world.

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