Chiung Yao writes a book on the right to a good death

On Tuesday, writer Chiung Yao made her first public appearance in at least 10 years to launch a book on the care of her ailing husband.
On Tuesday, writer Chiung Yao made her first public appearance in at least 10 years to launch a book on the care of her ailing husband.PHOTO: ENTPAPARAZZI/WEIBO

TAIPEI - Months after she quit Facebook and stopped posting about the care of her ailing husband, Taiwanese writer Chiung Yao has now published a book on it instead.

On Tuesday (Aug 1), the 79-year-old made her first public appearance in at least 10 years to launch the book, whose title translates as Before Snow Falls: The Last Lesson In My Life.

In April, she had gone public with the struggle she faced after her husband, publisher Ping Shin-tao, 90, had been diagnosed with vascular dementia. But she closed her social media account in May, after falling out with her three stepchildren over intubating her husband, who also suffered a stroke. They insisted on intubation - the insertion of a feeding tube into the nose and stomach - and she said she had to break her promise to let him die with dignity.

Choking up twice on Tuesday, she said she had visited him in hospital with her new book the day before, reported Apple Daily.

She added that she had been avoiding her stepchildren, but still hoped for a reconciliation one day.

She said she had written the book not for herself, but to tell everyone about the right to a good death.

"I quit Facebook to continue writing the book. I couldn't stop writing just because they were protesting," she said, referring to her stepchildren. "Because I didn't write this for myself. This book had to be written for me not to let their father down."

She said she had dreamed of him giving her a pile of papers to write all about their struggle.

The romance writer also announced that she had pulled 65 of her titles from her husband's Crown Publishing, which is now run by his son.

On Tuesday, the son said he agreed with his stepmother on the right to a good death, reported Apple Daily. But she has confused the issues of dying with dignity, euthanasia and dementia care, he added. He also said his father's health had improved.

In an open letter addressed to "Aunt Chiung Yao" in May, he and his siblings wrote: "What you have really been unable to accept is the matter of Father's dementia. To you, Father has dementia, can no longer remember you, can't say he loves you, so he is a 'soulless body', his life isn't worth living and euthanasia is better for him.

"To us, Father has dementia, can't remember us, and it doesn't matter. As long as he lives well in his own world, it's enough."