Her tweet prompted hundreds to share their stories of losing a loved one
The holiday season can bring so much joy, but for those who have lost loved ones, it’s one painful reminder after another of the fact that their family gatherings will be missing someone important.
For one grieving daughter, it was a trip to a department store that brought an unexpected flood of sadness. She shared the moment on Twitter, where it’s touched thousands who can relate.
Rachael Prior was at London store M&S recently with her husband and children when she spied a certain item of clothing that reminded her of her father.
Nowhere and no time do I miss my dad more acutely than in the men’s department of M&S at Christmas.
— Rachael Prior (@ORachaelO) November 11, 2017
If I see another reasonable priced, deep red angora mix sweater with a ribbon round it I’m going to actually have a breakdown.— Rachael Prior (@OrachaelO) November 11, 2017
Her story triggered an outpouring of not just support and love, but of people sharing their own stories about a loved one who has passed.
Oh, this. Solidarity, pal. My kryptonite is literally any useless object made of pewter which can be engraved with initials for a small extra cost.— John (@JM_Underwood) November 11, 2017
Prior responded to several of the stories that made her think of her own father, or even just to thank a person for sharing.
Oh god. My dad’s tankard, identical to your description, is our home office pencil pot. Hugs back x— Rachael Prior (@OrachaelO) November 11, 2017
Many of the replies show just how difficult this time of year can be for anyone who’s lost someone close to them. The holiday season is rich in tradition, and something as simple as tacky Christmas decorations or a much-loved storybook can bring on the wave of grief.
I cried in Wilkinson’s the other day cause my dad loved all their Christmas stuff - the tackier, the brighter, the noisier, the sparklier the better. It’s the wee things eh? Hugs— Harmo (@lora4dan) November 11, 2017
My dad passed away on Christmas Day last year - still can’t listen to his voicemails on my phone. I will read The Night Before Christmas to my kids on Christmas Eve, like he used to with me, but I’m not sure I will get through it.— Becky Maxwell (@beanmax) November 12, 2017
My partner has been gone eight years now, he always read The Night Before Christmas, even before our son came along. Tom is 18 now and we still read it together, it brings his dad back, even if just momentarily. Keep up the tradition ❤️— Katy Grove (@clockendkaty) November 12, 2017
People shared intensely personal stories about how they’re coping with their grief and the ways they’re choosing to remember their loved ones.
It’ll be five years in December. The last thing he ever said to me and in his handwriting. I carry his love everyday ❤️ pic.twitter.com/PaQNT0WVUL— Let It Bri (@realslimchicken) November 11, 2017
My mum used to use leaf tea and I still have a box of it in my cupboard even though it went out of date 16 years ago (mum died 17 years ago, day after my birthday) Husband understands this and knows not to throw it out x— Kathleen's left the country, leave a message (@HippyRockChick) November 12, 2017
When dad moved in with me as he was nearing the end of stage 4 lung cancer, I said I fancied a treat & he said there was a packet of bourbons back at his flat, he died less than a week later, I still have them.— EmmaJane (@ej09) November 12, 2017
Along with the shared sadness, Prior was able to connect with one of her father’s former students. He was a teacher — and a very memorable one at that.
Your dad wasn’t a teacher was he?— 🌻Sam🌻 (@SamanthaErica87) November 11, 2017
He was, yes.— Rachael Prior (@OrachaelO) November 11, 2017
Not THE Mr Prior?? Richmond head teacher?— 🌻Sam🌻 (@SamanthaErica87) November 11, 2017
Oh goodness, yes. Now I am crying a little bit. Did you go to his school?— Rachael Prior (@OrachaelO) November 11, 2017
Yes I did. I had the time of my life at that school, it was everything that a primary school should be. Your dad was a huge part of that. Also, his assemblies were legendary 😊— 🌻Sam🌻 (@SamanthaErica87) November 11, 2017
She was clearly overwhelmed by the way her father touched the lives of others — and the fact that one of those people happened to find her tweet.
Thank you so much for this. It means an incredible amount to me. I’m so happy you were happy there. I was too. Twitter can be so lovely xoxo— Rachael Prior (@OrachaelO) November 11, 2017
You’re welcome. He was a lovely, lovely man xx— 🌻Sam🌻 (@SamanthaErica87) November 11, 2017
Prior even comforted the woman, telling her that her dad would’ve been proud of who she grew up to be.
Looking at your bio, he’d have been so proud of you.— Rachael Prior (@OrachaelO) November 11, 2017
oh, I'm in tears, this is just so wonderful. ❤️❤️❤️— Sarah Phelps (@PhelpsieSarah) November 11, 2017
Oh, my heart. Yes, sometimes Twitter can be a beautiful place.
Prior tells the BBC about what triggered her sadness at the department store. “I caught sight of this cosy red jumper and thought it was the sort of thing my late father would love. I’d have picked it for him and I could imagine his face in that moment,” she says.
She explains that though her father, Lynton, died 10 years ago, the grief she felt in the store was “overwhelming.”
Prior says she had no idea her tweet would spread so far and be felt so deeply. “It felt cathartic to use Twitter but I didn’t think for one minute my innocuous tweet would catch on. It’s been bizarre.” Her raw sadness obviously struck a chord and made thousands feel less alone in their grief this holiday season.
She thanked everyone for the “surge of love” on her timeline, but that thread of replies proves she’s far from the only one who benefited from it.
Sunday morning with his majesty the dog, a cup of tea, Xmas onesie and a tsunami surge of love on my TL. Thank you, everyone. pic.twitter.com/JMAvU4Y4I6
— Rachael Prior (@ORachaelO) November 12, 2017