A UK crematorium company will soon set up ‘postboxes to heaven’ to let people send letters to their lost loved ones, thanks to a heartwarming idea by a nine-year-old. Grieving Matilda Handy, from Nottingham, came up with the heartwarming idea when she wanted to look for a way to express her emotions after her grandparents died.
The schoolgirl first thought of it when her post office worker grandmother Pat died in 2017, before she also sadly lost her grandad Keith last November. Her mum, Leanne, then approached her bosses at Gedling Crematorium in Lambley, which is owned by Bristol-based Westerleigh Group.
They responded by installing an old postbox painted white just before Christmas, leading to more than 100 letters being posted. They are now introducing the boxes to all of its 36 UK sites - as well as three new ones due to open later this year - after seeing Matilda’s tribute to her grandparents proved so popular.
Leanne said: "My mum and dad are in heaven and so we’re sending them letters in heaven. My mum passed away in 2017 and since then Matilda has always said she wishes we could send cards and letters to her mama in heaven. My mum worked in a post office for 25 years in our local community and it just seemed fitting for her.
“Matilda was so used to being around post boxes and letters and always wanted to send mama one. We wanted to unveil it at Christmas. We wanted to make sure it was the right time.
“A lot of people miss sending cards at Christmas time and that’s an important occasion for people in the community. I had a lady who said she really struggled as she couldn’t send her mum a Christmas card. The postbox had a big impact on her.
“It’s used every single day, whether it’s someone old or young. People find real comfort in sending something, whether it’s a child drawing a picture or an older person sending something to their loved ones. The art of writing something helps with the process.”
Matilda said the postbox also helped her with the loss of her grandad and hopes it can aid others dealing with grief. She said: “We’re doing these to be used by people when they walk past.
"It’s been hard because my grandad passed away in November 2022 so it definitely did help me. It’s just a very nice way to express my feelings and send a letter to them and to say how much I love them."
Matilda was the first to use the postbox and sent a letter containing a moving poem which read: "If heaven had a phone, Then I’d give you a ring. Just hear your voice and tell you, How my day has been.
"But it doesn’t have a phone, To make missing you better, So instead I write my feelings down. And send them in a letter. I know that you’ll be watching, As I write down every word, And I’ll feel it when you reply, The unwritten and unheard."
Leanne said: “We can walk through our local town and people will stop us and say how beautiful it is. Matilda’s teacher told everyone how amazing it is. We’re certainly proud of her, it’s helped her. If it can help her it can help a lot of other people.”
According to Leanne, there will be around 40 Westerleigh sites across England, Scotland and Wales that will have them. Matthew Brook, head of memorialisation at Westerleigh Group, said Matilda’s postbox has touched the hearts of so many bereaved people across the country.
He said: “Priding ourselves on serving our communities with exceptional care, we are delighted to be installing similar post boxes across all Westerleigh Group crematoria and helping many others who are grieving the loss of their loved one in a similar way.”
Full list of crematoriums to have ‘postbox to heaven’
- Aberystwyth Crematorium & Cemetery - Ceredigion
- Arun Crematorium - Arundel
- Aylesbury Vale Crematorium - Aylesbury
- Babworth Crematorium - Nottinghamshire
- Barham Crematorium - Kent
- Borders Crematorium - Melrose
- Basildon & District Crematorium and Cemetery - Essex
- Cam Valley Crematorium - Walden
- Charing Crematorium - Kent
- Cromer Crematorium - Cromer
- Forest of Dean Crematorium - Gloucestershire
- Forest Park Cemetery & Crematorium - Essex
- Gedling Crematorium - Nottingham
- Great Glen Crematorium - Great Glen
- Howe Bridge Crematorium - Manchester
- Langstone Vale Crematorium - Newport
- Llanelli Crematorium - Carmarthenshire
- Mercia Forest Crematorium - Essington
- New Forest Crematorium - Stem Lane New Milton
- New Southgate Cemetery & Crematorium - New Southgate
- North Wiltshire Crematorium - Royal Wootton Bassett
- Parndon Wood Cemetery & Crematorium - Essex
- Sedgemoor Crematorium - Somerset
- Sirhowy Valley Crematorium - Blackwood
- Stirlingshire Crematorium - Stirling
- Test Valley Crematorium - Hampshire
- The Vale Crematorium - Pershore
- Torbay Crematorium & Cemetery - Torquay
- Treswithian Downs Crematorium - Camborne
- Vale Royal Crematorium - Northwich
- Waseley Hills Crematorium - Birmingham
- Wessex Vale Crematorium - West End
- West Berkshire Crematorium - Berkshire
- Westerleigh Crematorium & Cemetery - Bristol
- West Lothian Crematorium - Livingston
- West Suffolk Crematorium & Cemetery - Risby, Bury St Edmunds
- West Wiltshire Crematorium - Wiltshire
- West Lancashire Cemetery & Crematorium - Lancashire
- Woollensbrook Cemetery & Crematorium - Herts