gould death zone

Philip Gould's last days immortalized on YouTube.

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British writer and political consultant Philip Gould, who had been diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus in 2008, was told in 2011 he had three months to live.

“When I Die : Lessons from the Death Zone” is Gould’s final weeks captured by filmmaker Adrian Steirn and uploaded to YouTube on April 18.

At just under nine minutes long, Gould ruminates on life, terminal illness, and death—including his own demise, which he has accepted and now views as a “beautiful” thing. Gould even takes his final portrait over his own grave.   

Gould spent his career as a political communications expert, eventually helping redefine the Labour Party, alongside Tony Blair. He was made Baron Gould of Brookwood in 2004.

“I am defining myself now through death,” Gould says at one point in the video. “I have some power... to shape myself with my own death, and in that moment I have a kind of freedom.”

British journalist Ben Perreau called the short film “profoundly moving” and “inspiring” on Twitter, while South African journalist Zama Ndlovu called it “so beautiful.

“[W]hat can I add? I sat in total silence for a couple of minutes after watching this post, what an amazing human being,” wrote daimlermandouble6 on YouTube.

Other YouTubers have taken to talking about the loss of their family members and their own death in the comments section.

“Lost my father some time ago (many years ago) and it still feels as though it was yesterday,” wrote allison23322. “This video gave me some thought as to what I'd like to convey to my family should I have the opportunity when approaching my death someday.”

A book of Gould’s reflections, also titled When I Die: Lessons from the Death Zone, was released to coincide with the video. Proceeds from the book go to the National Oesophago-Gastric Cancer Fund and the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.  

Gould died on November 6, 2011. He was 61. Simon Hattenstone, of Britain’s The Guardian, described Gould as “high on life...[a]nd death” in an interview in late September 2011.