How to live with dying


Sir, – I wish to express gratitude to Bridget Megarry for breaking the taboo around death and challenging our reticence to speak of what is a reality for every one of us (Health + Family, January 29th).

Ms Megarry wrote: “It seems there is a taboo on open conversation, discussion, humour and practice advice. Fear silences us.” The Irish Hospice Foundation (IHF) believes that as a society we need to talk about the reality of death. By thinking ahead, we can reflect on and decide our preferences for our care at the end of our lives – and then get on with the business of living.

Ms Megarry writes: “Take out long-term serious illness cover. We didn’t. Having a terminal illness is expensive. We have been saving hard over the past few years for our retirement so I have no hope of a medical card.” It is important that people such as Ms Megarry are informed of their rights.

We would like to remind readers and in particular those with palliative needs that they are entitled to medical cards regardless of means. Minister of State, Alex White TD, has said: “Once the terminal illness is verified [by a registered medical practitioner], patients are given an emergency medical card for six months. Given the nature and urgency of the issue, the HSE has appropriate escalation routes to ensure the person receives the medical card as quickly as possible. No means test applies to an application by a terminally ill patient.” (Dáil Debate October 23rd, 2012 and Parliamentary Questions, January 15th). – Yours, etc,


Chief Executive Officer,

The Irish Hospice


Nassau Street, Dublin 2.