In the weeks before his passing, Lord Philip Gould (freuds non-executive director and mentor to Matthew Freud) describes his intimate experience and relationship with the notion of the ‘death zone’ in his book When I Die. And in his final days he decides on a portrait. An image of himself, standing upon his grave site. Gould sends an impassioned message that reframes the perspective of life in the face of terminal illness. The portrait is on permanent exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery, London.
When I Die, is a deeply matter-of-fact book, dwelling on the clinical detail and hopes and setbacks of four years fighting cancer with the sharpest of analytical minds, but it nevertheless tells a story that is illuminated on almost every page with moments of quiet wisdom and terrific love. The voice in which it is told, though it faces up squarely, obsessively, to the sentence that has been delivered – “three months to live, best case” – seems about as alive and engaged as any voice you can think of.