The purpose was to investigate the relevance of philosophy of life as well as optimism for the psychological distress among Swedish individuals in a stage where death is approaching. Sixty-nine persons were included; of these were 42 patients newly diagnosed with advanced gastrointestinal cancer and 26 were partners to these patients. The participants' philosophy of life was studied through a semi-structured interview. The interview statements were subjected to content analysis. Optimism was measured by the Life Orientation Test and psychological distress by the Hospitality and Depression Scale. The results showed that optimistic respondents had less psychological distress. Two aspects of philosophy of life had relevance for such distress. These were wondering about why the cancer had occurred and having a feeling of being able to live a good life having or living near a person with advanced cancer. In conclusion, the above-mentioned aspects of philosophy of life as well as optimism have relevance for psychological distress among these individuals, which stress the importance that health-care staff address both patients' and their partners' concerns about their philosophy of life.