Merrill and his partner David Jackson were together forty years, dividing their time annually between Stonington, Connecticut and Athens. Later they traded Greece for Key West where their long relationship frayed. Merrill started the Ingram Merrill Foundation in honor of his divorced parents and gave generous, often anonymous grants to struggling writers, including his friend Elizabeth Bishop. A later friend, Pulitzer winning novelist and Key West resident Alison Lurie, wrote a memoir of Merrill and Jackson called Familiar Spirits, alluding to their love of ouija board seances memorialized in his postmodern, free verse 560-page epic poem The Changing Light at Sandover. He died in 1995 of an aids-related heart attack while visiting Arizona one month shy of his sixty-ninth birthday. His New York Times obit omits Jackson.