When Stacey Heale's husband, Delays frontman and celebrated Southampton musician, artist and poet Greg Gilbert, was diagnosed with incurable cancer on their daughter's first birthday, life changed for the couple.

Having to navigate the future alone, the 44-year-old mum of two quickly realised how little is spoken about death and grief.

Now, Stacey has written Now is Not the Time for Flowers, an unflinchingly beautiful and raw memoir that addresses the big conversations that imminent death dictates.

Daily Echo:

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Written in the two years following Greg's death in September 2021, it came about after a huge viral fundraising campaign to pay for treatment for Greg not available on the NHS led to Stacey's popular weekly column in the Daily Echo, Postcards From The Storm, which ran for 18 months. 

Daily Echo: Greg Gilbert and Stacey Heale

Stacey, who lives in Bitterne Park with daughters Dali, aged ten, and eight-year-old Bay, explained: "I didn't even have social media until we launched Give4Greg, but that is where I started writing during the many hours spent in hospital while Greg was having treatment.

"He would be kind of out of it, either in the chair having chemo, sleeping or not really with it and I would feel quite alone.

"I spent hours and hours basically on my own in hospital, so I bought a notepad and started sharing my thoughts online as a way of connecting with people. That was how my column in the Echo started.

"It was a weird thing being offered a book deal as Greg was dying, but at least I got to tell him. I really wanted him to be proud of me and I knew it would be the last thing he would be proud of me for. And he was so proud of me.

Daily Echo: Greg Gilbert and Stacey Heale with their daughters Dali and Bay

"It was hugely cathartic for me, it gave me a place to unpack my feelings and ideas. I didn't know what death looked like and was so underprepared for it. I hope through reading the book, other people won't feel so alone. 

"It's not a complete sob fest though. Some moments are tear jerkers, but there's also plenty of ridiculous dark humour which Greg would have appreciated."

Now is Not the Time for Flowers is released on Thursday March 28 and is available for pre-order from Amazon, Waterstones and Audible, narrated by Stacey.