To increase public awareness of the complexity of the issues surrounding care for the terminally ill, a county medical society and a local hospital council co-sponsored a public forum in October 1985. Panel members discussed the case of a terminally ill cancer patient from the medical, psychologic, economic, legal, and family perspectives. Panel members stressed the importance of helping the dying person to choose the preferred treatment and to achieve an emotionally satisfying death. The audience responded by pointing out the barriers to achieving death with dignity, which include poverty, lack of social support, and difficulty in facing and talking about death. In an evaluation questionnaire, the audience indicated that the emotional aspects and the communication problems involved in care for the terminally ill caused them more concern than the legal and ethical issues. © 1986 Southern Medical Association.