Letters to Heaven

Here at Great Glen Crematorium, we pride ourselves on helping the bereaved to remember their loved ones in uniquely personal ways and supporting them through their grief.

Grief is a journey that each person experiences differently and strategies which work for one person may be less effective for someone else. There is no specific time limit on grief either and we understand that.

One way which may bring comfort through the grief, is the act of writing down feelings or sharing thoughts on paper, whether that is on the day of an important anniversary or any day of the year. This is where we at Great Glen Crematorium can help.


Our post box

Located within our beautiful memorial gardens, the white ‘letters to heaven’ post box enables people to write letters, cards and messages to those they have lost, and ‘post them’.

That includes letters, postcards, birthday cards, anniversary cards, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day cards or Christmas cards – any simple written format you want it to be and regardless of when the loved one passed or where their funeral service took place. Our post box is available to anyone who feels they may benefit from it.

Every letter or card put into the memorial post box is treated with the utmost respect and confidentiality. They are stored securely and are never opened or read. The post box is not owned or serviced by Royal Mail, so no address or stamp is needed on any messages to loved ones put into it. 


The story of our post box

Our first memorial post box was installed at Gedling Crematorium near Nottingham, and was the idea of nine-year-old Matilda Handy, whose mother, Leanne, is Memorial Advisor there.

Leanne’s father passed away in 2003 and her mother, who Matilda enjoyed a very loving relationship with, passed away in 2017.

Leanne said: “Matilda was always saying she wished we could send Mamma and Grandad birthday and Christmas cards for them to read. She was four when my mum died, and never met my dad and wished we could still send them birthday and Christmas cards for them to read.

“I then saw an article in a newspaper about a postman who found a letter in a Leicester post box written by an eight-year-old to her father in Heaven and we thought that perhaps we could have a post box at the crematorium.

Following a period of planning, Leanne arranged for that first memorial post box to be installed at Gedling Crematorium just before Christmas 2022 and within a few weeks more than 100 messages had been posted in it.

Leanne said: “Following the installation of the post box at Gedling Crematorium, we had some amazing comments from members of the community about the comfort they have gained from writing letters and cards.

“Matilda and I were delighted when we learned that Westerleigh Group, the parent organisation of Gedling Crematorium and Great Glen Crematorium, was going to install similar boxes at all its crematoria, so that people all over the country could use them.”

The launch of the first memorial post box quickly attracted attention all over the UK and from abroad.

Leanne and Matilda found themselves appearing on the BBC One Show, BBC Breakfast News, Channel Four’s Steph’s Packed Lunch, plus a number of radio stations and in many national and local newspapers and news websites. 

Leanne added: “I feel very proud and both Matilda and I are so pleased that people are using these post boxes and taking some comfort from them, as another way of feeling connected to their loved ones.”

Find out more here:

Postbox to Heaven - Points of Light

I helped create postbox to heaven so we can send letters to lost loved ones, says nine-year-old girl | The Sun

Nine-year-old girl's idea for 'post boxes to heaven' rolled out to cemeteries across UK - Mirror Online

Nottingham schoolgirl, 9, launches 'postbox to heaven' idea after death of grandparents - Nottinghamshire Live (nottinghampost.com)


What happens to the letters? 

Every letter put into our memorial post boxes is treated with complete confidentiality and sensitivity. None of them are opened or read.

We know, from the feedback we have received, that people gain considerable comfort and emotional benefit through the act of writing and posting the messages.

We spent some time researching the most appropriate and respectful way of managing the letters long-term, which resulted in Westerleigh Group making an investment in a solution for every crematorium / cemetery operated by the Group.

Using an innovative and eco-friendly method, we are able to turn the letters into compost which is then used in our memorial gardens. Whilst it is understandable we are unable to keep the letters indefinitely, our thoughtful and sensitive process ensures that they never leave the site where they were posted and the very special soil which is created from the letters, helps enhance the ecosystem of our beautiful grounds for all to enjoy. 


Coping with grief

We hope that visiting our grounds and posting a letter to your loved one into our post box will bring you comfort each time you visit.

We understand that coming to terms with the loss of your loved one will be a personal journey which will consist of achieving a series of smaller and bigger milestones. We hope that the memorial post box will be one of them.

You may also find it helpful to browse additional resources available from other organisations which support the bereaved. Click here to find out more.