Nick Page

The Death Zone


This is a remarkable, powerful video. While I was watching it, I kept thinking of Paul’s strange statement that he was:

always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. (2Cor. 4:10–12)

As is the case with lots of Paul’s writing, I’m not sure I entirely understand what he was getting at, but I think it may be something like this video: the immense power and wonder of a man who has come to terms with death – good death. What Philip Gould calls ‘the death zone’ is, in fact, the place where he feels more alive than at any time in his life. In the interview with his daughter, she says

"Dad had been going on about the death zone and how for him time had stood still; how since he had accepted the terminal diagnosis he wasn’t thinking about anything but the moment, the power of his relationships.

That is a profound thing. The power of our relationships is what really matters in life. Relationships with our family, with our spouses, with God, and, with ourselves.

“He was always spiritual, throughout his life,” she says. “My mum and my sister and me are all Jewish. His sister is a church of England priest. But it wasn’t the fundamental thing for him. He had this strong belief that it was not God who judges you at the end of your life but that you judge yourself. Have you lived well?”

As he was a political figure, whether he lived well is a matter of debate. and some of the comments below the Observer article are emotionally charged and very sad, not only for their bitterness but also for their sense of loss and of experiencing deaths which were not so privileged.

But I think that misses the point. ‘The power of his relationships…’ At the end of his life he wasn’t Philip Gould the politician, but Philip Gould the father, the husband, the man. Maybe that was a lesson he had to learn, I don’t know.

But if it was, he learned it well.