NCPC CEO pays tribute to Philip Gould

8 November 2011
Eve Richardson, Chief Executive of the National Council for Palliative Care and the Dying Matters Coalition, pays a personal tribute to Philip Gould, the political adviser who specialised in understanding public opinion, and who died shortly after talking to the media about accepting he was dying.

"Lord Philip Gould died on Sunday peacefully with his wife and daughters by his side. I wanted to pay a personal tribute to him for his honesty, his wisdom and his courage knowing he was nearing the end of life.

"I met with him recently in his home and we talked in an animated way about the importance of dying well and how facing the end of his life was for him such an important and exceptional experience. The book that we sent him, which is one of the resources we use at the Dying Matters Coalition to help with more open discussion about dying, “Dying to Know”, was on his coffee table, displayed in his bright and colourful sitting room.

"Although loving life he talked to me about no longer having a fear of dying as he had discussed it with those close to him and had sorted out all his affairs. We talked about how we could help with the book he was working on called ‘the Unfinished Life’ and how our materials and our website might be helpful, as well as about how he may be able to support our work at Dying Matters.

"I am so pleased to have the memory of such a positive and sensitive discussion that I will personally cherish, and so sad that we could not finish our work together. However, I came away both humbled and inspired by his attitude and struck by how beneficial he had found it to talk about dying and plan ahead for it. The Dying Matters Coalition was set up for this exact reason, in order to help people to talk and to plan ahead and get their wishes met. As we discussed, the only certainty in life is that we will all die – which is why talking more openly about dying, death and bereavement and planning for the future is so important."

Eve Richardson

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