After losing her mum and best friend to cancer, FCA Therapist Chloe from our Yorks and Lincs Team was inspired by a crematorium in Nottingham who were installing a 'Letters to Heaven' white post box in their grounds.
Since then Chloe has worked tirelessly to raise funds for Letters to Heaven post-boxes to be installed around Sheffield for family and friends to write messages or send cards to deceased loved ones.
Her aim is to make sure that any grieving family has somewhere to go and send letters to those who have tragically passed away.
Here is Chloe's incredibly moving story...
In 2002, my two best friends passed away, one in a road traffic accident in February, in Manchester and the other in the Bali Bombings that occurred in October. I suffered complex and complicated grief following their deaths and suffered for 10 years with panic attacks/agoraphobia and PTSD.
I started training to be a Counsellor in 2014/2015 as it is something I had always wanted to do, to help others who had suffered from grief and trauma.
Whilst I was studying to be a Counsellor in 2017, My Mum was diagnosed with terminal cancer and passed away nine months later in September 2018. I was studying/attending my counselling placement/working part time/looking after my family and caring for my Mum. It was an awful year and I was 36 at this point and I was absolutely heartbroken and devastated at the loss of my Mum who was like my best friend, not just my Mum.
I continued my studies and qualified to be a Therapeutic Counsellor in 2022, finally after lots of hard work and whilst going through some of the hardest times in my life.
Three months after my Mum passed away, one of my best friends, Katie, was diagnosed with Cancer. Katie was an absolute power house of a woman and our friendship was so special, in that it was just a truly uplifting friendship with no jealousy or negativity, just lifting each other up, genuinely happy for each other’s wins and I feel after my Mum passed, Katie became a bit of a mother figure for me as her advice was always so logical and straight to the point.
Katie passed away 1st of December 2022, In January 2023, I read about a crematorium in Nottingham installing a “Letters to Heaven” white post box in their grounds and with Mother’s Day coming up in March, I decided I was going to try and get something similar installed in Sheffield so that Katie’s children would have somewhere to go to post their Mother’s Day card. I was 36 when I lost my Mum and I am absolutely devastated and heartbroken still, so for those children to be facing the first Mother’s Day without Kate such a short time after she had passed away really upset me.
We are all lost without her and have had bracelets made with WWKD on them, so if we are struggling we wear the bracelet and think, What Would Katie Do?
I approached Sheffield City Council Bereavement Services by email on the 25th of January 2023 asking that if I could source a white post box, would I be able to have it installed in Hutcliffe Wood, which was the closest crematorium/cemetery to me?
Bereavement Services then took a couple of weeks to come back to me, but agreed that if I fundraised for the post box that I could have it placed in Hutcliffe Wood Crematorium grounds. I agreed to start the fundraising via Just Giving on Facebook and see where it went from there. It was picked up by several media outlets including the SheffLive/Yorkshire Live/Sheffield Star newspaper and I also went on to the Paulette Edwards show on BBC Radio Sheffield in March to promote them. We managed to raise £1348.00 with donations via Just Giving.
I managed to raise enough funds to buy six post boxes and the Sheffield City Council Bereavement Services, at that point, said that I could only place one of the post boxes in the Sheffield City Council Cemetery/Crematorium grounds. It was a massive setback, that I had managed to buy six post boxes and then the council refusing to place them apart from one of them.
I refused to let this stop me, so then I set about contacting Hospice’s/churches/counselling services, to see if they would want one of the post boxes within their grounds. Grenoside Crematorium is privately owned, they agreed that they would like one of the post boxes placed within their grounds. I spent the next couple of weeks trying to locate placements and I contacted my local MP Louise Hague, to assist me in challenging the council and their decision.
Bereavement Services then called me in for a meeting and they agreed to place the remaining four post boxes within council cemetery/crematorium grounds, but that they were unable to service them. I agreed and said that I would create a Letters to Heaven volunteer group whereby we would empty the post boxes ourselves once full, so then I had to try and locate someone who could cremate the letters for me as we really didn’t want to just destroy them or shred them, and we also needed some plaques making. John Fairest on Abbey Lane agreed to make the plaques for free, which was amazing.
About another few weeks went by and it was now April/May and Bereavement Services called me again for a meeting and during this meeting they agreed to the placement of all the five post boxes on a six month trial basis (the other one was placed in Grenoside Crematorium which is privately owned) as well as servicing the post boxes. They agreed that when the post boxes are emptied, they will be burying the letters in the common graves within the City Road Cemetery grounds.
Finally all the post boxes were to be placed and the servicing was going to be taken over by the council. I was ecstatic. The post boxes were placed around Sheffield, week commencing 19th of June and are now all in place at the following locations;
- City Road Cemetery/Crematorium
- Burncross Cemetery
- Shiregreen Cemetery
- Hutcliffe Wood Crematorium
- Tinsley Park Cemetery
With the final one being placed at Grenoside Crematorium, which is privately run, they will be burying the letters once the post box is full within their grounds.
I’m so happy that they are finally in place and that they are available for people to use. I am now eager to spread the word to enable fellow counsellors and people grieving to be aware of the resource that is available.
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