Everybody experiences grief differently. Many bereaved individuals wish they could talk to their loved ones one more time. Matilda Handy, who was ten years old, most definitely experienced that. She came up with the idea for a "postbox to heaven" after losing both of her grandparents in the space of five years, so she could keep writing letters to them even after they passed away. In the UK, cemeteries are now implementing Matilda's inspirational suggestion so that people can keep in touch with the deceased.
In Nottingham, the birthplace of Matilda, the Gedling Crematorium housed the first postbox to heaven. The staff was thrilled about Leanne, her mother, asking permission to put up the mailbox. So, a plaque that says "Letters to Heaven" in a tasteful cursive script was added to an old post box that was painted white and lettered in gold. Leanne states that Matilda was the first person to leave a message in the inaugural memorial post box at Gedling in December of last year. Their family took particular pleasure in this concept because Matilda's grandmother was employed by the post office.
“We had no idea then, that one year later, there would be a memorial post box at every one of Westerleigh Group's sites—bringing comfort to people all over the country.”
In the first week alone, after Matilda left her envelope, another 100 letters were added to the post box. For many, the ability to connect with loved ones through touch was consoling. The concept quickly extended to remote regions of the globe as well. Matilda says, "I am so grateful that our post boxes are able to help people all over the UK and as far away as Australia, in addition to me and my friends and family."
One of the biggest independent owners of cemeteries and crematoria in the UK, Westerleigh Group, is committed to installing memorial post boxes at all of its locations, including Gedling Crematorium. Debbie Smith, CEO of Westerleigh Group, continues, "We've received so much incredibly positive feedback from people who tell us they have gained therapeutic benefit and comfort." Around the holidays, when the absence of departed loved ones is most felt, the post boxes are most frequently filled. Matilda even wrote to King Charles proposing to place a white and gold post box close to Buckingham Palace so that people could write to royalty, including Princess Diana and the late Queen Elizabeth.
Hopefully, after witnessing the comfort this idea has brought, more memorial mailboxes will appear in cemeteries across the globe.