Thursday 24 October 2019
Over 300 delegates have gathered at Dublin Castle today to explore how dying is our business as citizens of the State and in our professional and private lives.
Today’s National Conference of the Forum on End of Life in Ireland, an initiative of the Irish Hospice Foundation (IHF), is the 6thbiennial conference on death, dying and bereavement.
Speaking from Dublin Castle, CEO Sharon Foley said: “It is now a full decade since that first exploratory Forum Conference was held in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham in 2009. Forum 2019 helps us look back and celebrate 10 years of progress and to face forward to the challenges that remain since that first Forum sought to promote a national conference on dying, death and bereavement in Ireland. The conversation is as animated today as it was then- and as essential.”
“This year’s theme is Dying is Everyone’s Business. We are honoured that our guest speakers, panellists and interviews have given so generously of their time to be here today and help us all to explore how dying is our business as citizens of the State as well as in our professional and private lives.”
Keynote Speaker Dr Kathryn Mannix, author of the international bestseller With The End in Mind, spoke passionately about the importance of talking about death in our death-adverse modern society. Dr Mannix trained and worked in palliative medicine for 30 years in the North of England in hospices, patients’ homes and hospital palliative care teams.
“We’ve stopped talking about dying. We’ve lost the rich wisdom of normal human dying. Dying like giving birth is just a process. It can be a gentle process, something we can recognise, something we can prepare for and something we can manage. This should be something we can celebrate. This should be something we can console each other with. Dying is something we should be reclaiming.”
At the last Forum Conference in 2017, the People’s Charter on Death, Dying and Bereavement was launched a result of the IHF’s Have Your Say project. It presented an opportunity for Irish people to reflect, reimagine and remember what dying, death and bereavement meant to them.”
Advocacy Manager Angela Edghill spoke at today’s conference about how the Charter is the cornerstone of the work of the IHF. “We embarked on the process of the People’s Charter to listen, to learn, to start the conversation round death, dying and bereavement and to continue it. Forum Conferences are public expression of all the work that people do in their day-to-day lives, professionally and personally. It gives us all time to pause and take stock of where we are, what we can do for others, but also how we can help ourselves.”
“The IHF’s Forum wants to encourage, enable and support people in making the changes that they wish to make and the changes that are needed. The People’s Charter can become a reality for us all if we all work together.”
Delegates today also had the opportunity to take part in The Departure Lounge. The IHF was specially selected by the Academy of Medical Sciences (UK) to host the taboo-busting pop-up event. The free-for-all installation uses the metaphor of travel, findings from medical sciences and personal stories from the end of life to explore what to means to have a good death.
Public Engagement Officer at the IHF is Rebecca Lloyd; “We’re so delighted to host Departure Lounge at Forum. It was created to start a conversation around end of life creating a safe space for people to think a little more about what they might want, which isn’t an easy thing to do. We’re using this pop-up to listen carefully to the views of the public and understand what is most important to them. Our Departure lounge is filled with music and poetry which we hope will resonate with the participants of Forum 2019.”