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Looking steadily at death

studieslaunch_01A copy of this year’s winter issue of Studies should be sent to every school in the country, said Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh, the veteran RTE broadcaster, at the Studies launch on 7 December. Young people, he explained in his excellent address, need to be educated about death and end-of-life care, as they can too easily be protected from these realities and therefore struggle to handle them when they arise in their lives. Contributing to the theme of ‘Death, dying, and bereavement’ in Studies are actor Gabriel Byrne, Denis Doherty (Chairman of the Irish Hospice Foundation), and Maurice Manning (Chancellor of the NUI). Pictured here at the launch are Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh, Fr Fergus O’Donoghue SJ (Editor), Bob Carroll (Hospice Ireland), and Maurice Manning. More detail in the press release below.

“DEATH LOOKED AT STEADILY”

Micheal O Muircheartaigh launches Jesuit Journal on Death, Dying and Bereavement

Micheal O Muircheartaigh will launch the winter edition the Jesuit Journal Studies, on the theme of ‘Death, Dying and Bereavement’, in association with the Irish Hospice Foundation. The launch will take place on Mon, 7 Dec ’09, 6pm, Irish Hospice Foundation, Morrison Chambers, 32 Nassau St, Dublin 2.

Actor Gabriel Byrne writes about ‘Planning Your own Death while Alive’, in his opening article. The Irish Hospice Foundation Supporter and patron of the End of  Life Forum says it is no wonder that many people don’t want to think about death and dying because often our experience of it has been when we visited hospitals to say our last farewells to much loved family or friends. There we have found that “far too many patients end their days in a busy public ward with poor sanitary facilities, little or no privacy save for a flimsy curtain around the bed, no space around the bedside for relatives to spend time on those precious last conversations with loved ones”.

The issue of ‘Securing a Good Death in an Irish Hospital’ is tackled by Denis Doherty, Chairman of the Irish Hospice Foundation. He says that death is a time for hospital services and supports to be organized around the person dying and not around the needs of the hospital supplying the service. He also says it is unacceptable that until very recently “there has been little engagement with quality of life issues for older people in long-stay settings”. Architect Ian Clarke notes in his article on ‘Design and Dignity in Hospital’, that over 20,000 people die in Irish hospitals every year he and he proposes that “not only can the design of the environment directly influence  the quality of that experience but also the issue of dignity is important in all health care contexts not just in end of life care”.

Maurice Manning in his article “Death like sun cannot be looked at steadily,” goes on to take a steady look himself asking fundamental questions of Ireland as a ‘caring society?, like how do we really meet and treat each other in bereavement and death?

Mervyn Taylor, Manager of the Hospice Friendly Hospitals programme says that a strong and independent hospice movement can do much to rally a wide range of social forces to ensure that no-one should die alone, frightened or in pain.And it can shine a light on practices in place today that are hurtful and policies which are harmful.

‘Conversations with the Irish Public on Dying and Death ’ reports on an Irish Hospice movement sponsored study  of two adult focus groups from Dublin and Sligo, to find out their opinions on death and dying. In ‘Living with the Dead: Burial, Cremation and Memory’, author Ken Worpole asks, Why cremation?, and looks at the decline of the cemetery. Other articles include ‘Hospice Care and the Tax Payer’, ‘Forum on the End of Life’, and ‘Supportive policy for End of life’.