When I Die

In this intimate portrait, Philip Gould wrestles with the meaning, and unexpected ecstasy, of impending death

Adrian Steirn

9 minutes

When I Die

  • Philip Gould was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus in 2008, and in the summer of 2011 he was given three months to live. Filmed during the last two weeks of his life, this intimate portrait reveals Gould’s quest to find meaning in what he called ‘the death zone’.

    Gould believed that for the terminally ill and those close to them, there can be moments of joy, resolution and inspiration just as intense as those of fear, discomfort and sadness.

    ‘I am not redefining death, I am offering another way to perceive dying. I have been offered an opportunity to live every moment until there are no more moments for me to live and for that I will be eternally grateful.’

  • Director Biography:

    Adrian Steirn is a photographer and filmmaker. He was the Nikon Africa Professional Photographer of the Year 2009 and the overall winner of the Africa Photographic Awards 2010. He is currently undertaking the 21 Icons Global Project, a visual celebration and intimate personal chronicle of the most iconic men and women of the 21st century.

  • Director: Adrian Steirn
  • Producer: Nicola Howson
  • Cinematographer: Richard Finn Gregory, Oran O'Reilly, James Suter
  • Executive Producer: Matthew Freud, Elisabeth Murdoch

  • Running Time: 9 minutes
  • Language: English
  • Website: www.adriansteirn.com/

Add your own review…

  • Eric

    I wish that my father could have had the opprtunity to do something similar. It was absolutely priceless and allows someone to remain, even after they have departed. Thank you Philip.

  • Mitch

    Beautiful piece, especially his ability to articulate the bliss that death represents. Death is part of life.

  • Aideen Leonard

    It never ceases to amaze me how we spend our lives ignoring the inevitable until we are told definitively that we are dying. Yet we are dying every day and in that dying we experience life! A wonderful and uplifting piece of film from a deeply spiritual human being.

  • Yew Fai

    Most beautiful. We often think that life and death are dichotomous. Perhaps not. Life is probably best understood and appreciated in the face of death.

  • Jana Alnaqeeb

    It is very touching! 10 minutes of this and i can empathize with Philip even though i have no idea who he is. It is very strange that when you are faced with death you start living or becoming who you are, in other sense, you let go. I think it is great to share this with the rest of the world! Thank you

  • Marina Crean

    Lead, inspire, love and show strength.. what a great way to live the rest of my life.. Thank you Mr Gould for your beautiful legacy.

  • Miki


  • Michael

    I was moved by this man’s experience. My own father died a few years ago and I asked what it was like to die. He quoted scripture from the Bible…not that that is wrong, but he never did answer my question. Thank you my question is answered.

  • Colleen

    Beautiful story and beautiful work. Very uplifting.

  • Jules Evans

    That’s beautiful! Thank you.

  • Jane Hains

    An incredibly inspiring and moving portrait of a highly evolved and deeply spiritual man close to death . It gave me courage and insight to face my own inevitable death .

  • Racquel Mitchell

    Amazing. A real eye opener, brings you to really appreciate the people and things that you have, inspiring man and a fantastic video

  • Victoria

    My car hated to start today, I’m very upset. Then, I watched this.. my life’s perspective totally refreshed. This man was conveyed with such a brave ambiguity. I want to know more about him, and his life. Amazing!

  • aelena (@aelena)

    I was moved by this beautiful piece, as I am also mystified by the fact of death. I applaud Philip’s effort and I think it offers a very humane perspective, a very welcome one, given how negative our mainly christian-inspired consideration of death is.
    I often wonder if death can also bring release, relief and if it can be approached in a more positive way.

    (to finish with some humorous tone) Guess I could say this is a bit NSFW, because it will make your eyes watery. So finally AEON found another way susprise us everyday.

  • Clay Williamson

    Unforgettable. A dignified, humane examination of death and the unique perspective it brings.