Gran Lesley Emerson loved sending texts so much when she was alive, that after she died her family buried her with her mobile phone.

Lesley Emerson died from bowel cancer aged 59; her family continued to send her text messages as part of their grieving process and said that being able to send the messages helped them to cope with their grief.

Beloved gran Lesley Emerson was so fond of text messaging, she was buried with her mobile

Beloved gran Lesley Emerson was so fond of text messaging, she was buried with her mobile

Three years after Lesley’s death the family, who were still sending their grieving messages to her, were stunned when they started receiving replies.

Granddaughter Sheri was shocked when out of the blue one her messages was answered: “I’m watching over you, and it’s all going to get better. Just push through.”

O2 had assured Lesley’s family that they would never reallocate her number to someone else, but had forgotten or reneged on their promise. The new ‘owner’ of Lesley’s number thought the heart-rending texts were jokes from friends and answered them in the same vein.

22 year-old Sheri, who is from South Shields in Tyneside, said: “I sent the text to gran talking about what I had been doing, just as I always did. When the reply came through at lunchtime the following day I felt sick. Crazy stuff was flashing through my mind like “Is she still alive?

Sheri Emerson and her uncle Graham could not believe it when the replies started appearing

Sheri Emerson and her uncle Graham could not believe it when the replies started appearing

“Then I started getting horrible visions that someone might have dug up her grave and taken her phone, my mind was full of all sorts of really unpleasant possibilities. The person who was texting me was apologetic when we actually rang the number and said he thought his friends had been winding him up. He got the number innocently but O2 had promised my dad when he rang after Nan’s death that the number would be destroyed so as far as we were concerned it would always be hers.

“Nan got bowel cancer and died very quickly, she was only diagnosed in October 2010 and died the following June. It came so suddenly and none of us could quite get our heads around what had happened. It helped to text her, that was the way we were always in touch every day when she was alive. I texted her at least once a week for three years until last week I suddenly got a reply. I stared at my phone and the message was written as though it was from her, it was so strange, I went cold and shaky.

“The phone company have told us they will try to retrieve the number and take it out of circulation, but for me it’s too late, that special way I had of feeling I was in touch with her is gone forever. I couldn’t bear to go to her grave – she was like a mother to me, we had a special bond. You can imagine what I was thinking seeing a message flash up from her.”

O2 have confirmed that they are trying to retrieve the number from giffgaff, the phone company they sold it on to and if successful will not reallocate it.

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