Series two, episode 21: Tim Dempsey



“It’s an absolutely beautiful thing, our own mortality, and how brief our life is. We fear death so much and this impacts on our life in a huge way. To fear death is to fear reality itself. Transience is a beautiful thing.”


Losing a girlfriend of sixteen years at 34 is pretty rough. No two ways about it, something like this will change the course of your life and create a wound that can never fully heal.

Tim Dempsey went through this in April this year. His partner Ali was diagnosed with incurable breast cancer a few years earlier. Tim doesn’t remember any good news through her treatment over this time. She had many hopes which were dashed, but continued to live her life without focusing every day on cancer. Instead, she still lived life in the outdoors as much as she could, and fought for the causes she believed passionately in, such as British wildlife and conservation, feminism and the questionable pink marketing of breast cancer campaigns.


Ali was a writer and I read some of her work. It made me want to know her. I felt emotions I can’t really put my finger on when talking to Tim and thinking about both Tim and Ali after, something like wistfulness, sadness and gratitude for the goodness in people. Tim is a strong advocate for openness about grief. He was keen to share the reality of what he has gone through, and is still going through. Amongst it all, we talked about his response to the immediate loss, how his grief has changed and evolved since, coping with the reactions at work, the role of running, wildlife watching and the hills, counselling and therapy and speaking up about emotions and about death as a man in our British culture. His reflections on losing Ali, death and living fully are worth listening to.


Find it here on iTunes, Soundcloud, Stitcher and TuneIn as well as Android apps.


If you love his words as much as me, please share with others and let us know through a super quick rating or review.


And now as we are in the credits of series two, thank YOU all for listening, sending me your feedback and sharing with your friends, keep it coming. Knowing people are getting something out of this makes so much difference to my motivation to continue into series three and I have a long list of ideas for guests and conversations I’m working to bring to life in 2019.


Wishing you all happy and honest-talking holidays!


Show notes


Hilljoy: Tim’s beautiful blog


Tribute to Ali Schofield in Big Issue


Ali’s article on how to talk to people with cancer


Ali’s article on breast cancer awareness campaigns


Ali’s article on her diagnosis in Marie Claire


Ali’s article on visual arts in Emerald Street


Ali’s article on toad conservation


Grief Works book


Carlo Ravelli’s book


Tim on Twitter

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