Introducing Phoebe’s Grief Blog – No Textbook

Phoebe Young lost her Dad, Simon Gale, founder of Southern Plant & Tool Hire after a 3 year journey with cancer in March 2019.  Phoebe would like to share her grief blog she’s started to write with Henley Herald readers over the next few months called ‘No Textbook!’

Phoebe said, “I felt drawn to communicate a message with my words to help people who are struggling with their grief and let them know that they are not alone. My Dad was always doing what he could to give back and I want to carry that on in his memory.”

Simon founded Southern Plant & Tool Hire 30+ years ago in 1988 from a small hut on Station Road with a small number of tools to hire and five employees.

Phoebe added, “We don’t openly talk about death; it’s skirted over; people don’t know how to act or what to say; it becomes awkward at times! You find yourself feeling slightly alienated, unsure whether you can share your grief with others without being a burden. On the other side, being the supportive friend, you struggle with an internal battle of Do I ask? Shall I mention it? Is it too much? Is it better to talk about something else?” 

“My Dad was, and still is, a huge inspiration to me! He had a fire for life and that’s something I want to get across. He’s an incredible man and I feel beyond blessed to have shared a life with him. Albeit, I wished for longer. Sadly, life doesn’t always work out in the ways we planned, does it?.” ⁣

Is Time a Healer?

People use the phrase “time’s a healer” a lot when they speak to you about grief and it used to irritate me. Anyone that said it to me, after my Dad passed away, I could have straight up punched them in the face. The whole sentence would send a wave of boiling hot rage over my body.

I didn’t want time to be my healer; I just wanted my Dad back and my family. The 6 of us, whole again. The problem is, yes, over time we know the grief will become easier to digest every day but, at the beginning, you can’t see past the fog of trauma that has happened. You get so lost in the pain of it that you struggle to move any further forward. But let me say, without realising, you are moving forward. You’re showing up every day. Yes, sometimes you are having better days than others but you’re still carrying on. You’re healing.

I used to wonder if, as weeks and months passed, that the pain would pass; that I’d wake up one day and something within my being would kick into gear and produce some type of magical band-aid to heal the agony that I felt day by day. I’d wake up each day, making a huge effort to practise positive mantras; making a huge effort to stay connected to others; making a huge effort to tell myself over and over that I am strong. I would fill my days with jobs, housework, play dates, absolutely anything to try and drown the pain of how I felt inside. But the pain would never lessen. The ache I felt in my heart, the gut-wrenching grind in my stomach, the emptiness within never went.

When you lose someone, you often feel like grief has a time limit. I found myself meeting friends and when they asked “How are you doing?” I’d instantly reply with the most masked, untrue answer. “I’m doing fine.” This is never true. If someone ever tells you they’re fine, they are in fact not fine. The word fine is so nothingy. It has no passion, no zest, no power. It’s just “fine”. The problem is, we tell ourselves, when grieving, that people are sick of hearing about it. They are not interested anymore. It’s been too long. They don’t want to hear me talk about the same depressing subject over and over. However, that isn’t actually true. For someone to ask how are you doing, is an olive branch for you. You’re allowed to talk about your feelings. You are allowed to hold your hands up and say “You know what, I’m struggling.” So I would encourage you to take that branch; let your emotions move through you where you are safe, where you feel held and loved.

The next article is entitled This is Not the End about the gift of human connection.

You can read more of Phoebe’s blog at