What to say when you have no words

My 92-year-old Grandma died yesterday. I’m still in shock and working my way slowly through the change curve.

She was a much loved Mum of five, Grandma of nine (I’m the eldest) and Great-Grandma. She’d been poorly for a while and despite guessing why my Mum was calling me so late last night, it’s still a shock.

Telling my children this morning was incredibly hard. As a professional communicator, I was suddenly at a loss for what to say. My thanks to this website for helping me find the right words in the early hours of this morning as I thought through today’s inevitable conversations.

My seven-year-old daughter has asked a lot of questions, and my four-year-old twin sons have been told it’s ok that Mummy is very sad and teary today.

Writing this post is helping me to process the news, so please forgive this self-indulgence.

Putting my skills to use
I wrote the death announcement for the local paper in Romford, Essex, today, where she spent many years of her life.

I’ve edited hundreds of those announcements for that paper over the years. It’s where I started my career as a Journalist 20 years ago. 

Just like that, I was transported back to the smoke-filled newsroom, with faxes whirring and phones ringing. One of my first tasks on the news desk was reading the family announcements, correcting typos and extracting stories of births, marriages and deaths for potential leads.

I used to post my Grandma a copy of the newspaper every week on publication day. She’d moved to the Essex coast a couple of years before I started working at the paper, but had many friends locally from decades of living there. 

I found out years later that she’d cut out and kept every bylined story of mine for four years.

I’ve been flooded with memories today. Small, seemingly insignificant moments and conversations going back years are magnified and significant. 

She taught me so much and I’ve found comfort in telling my daughter some of my favourite memories and sharing stories today. 

I’m going to go ahead with my Comms Director Mastermind tomorrow. Apologies to clients who have calls and meetings booked with me for the rest of this week. My PA Louise will be in touch with you tomorrow to reschedule our time together. I’m going to be offline to grieve and hope to be back next week. 

My monthly newsletter, The Water Cooler, will come out next week rather than this week. You can sign up here to receive a copy.

I’ll miss you Grandma, God bless you and thank you for so many wonderful memories.

The photographs of my children and you that we took recently will be cherished and you’ll live on in our hearts and minds. 

On days like today, when words struggle to come and the world seems somehow different, it’s a reminder that love and kindness live on. 

Rest in peace Grandma.


First published on the All Things IC blog 2 June 2019.


  1. Paul Thomas says:

    Very sorry to hear this Rachel. Best wishes to you and your family. Paul x

  2. Thank you Paul x

  3. Helen Alexander says:

    You take your time Rachel, we will all still be here when you get back. xx

  4. Thank you very much Helen x

  5. Sam Boniface says:

    Sorry to hear this Rachel. Take care of yourself and your family x

  6. Josephine Graham says:

    Beautiful tribute to your Grandma. It’s part of life but that doesn’t make it any easier. Thinking of you x

  7. Thank you Sam x

  8. Caroline says:

    Dear Rachel,

    I am so sorry to hear about your Grandma, what a beautiful post. She sounds like an incredible woman who made a huge impact on those around her. Everyone grieves differently, but I think it is so important to take time and share memories. Thinking of you & your family at this time x

  9. Sam says:

    So sorry to hear your sad news, Rachel. Your Grandma evidently had a wonderful family around her and you must all have given her so much joy. I hope this difficult time brings you even closer together. Thinking of you. x

  10. Natalia says:

    I am really sorry for your loss. My Mum passed away 3 months ago and it’s still very hard. One thing that makes me feel better at times is thinking that my Mum, same as your Grandma – I’m sure, wouldn’t want me to feel this pain for even a second. So I allow myself to feel sad, but knowing that she loved me and that things will get easier soon.

    big hug, Natalia

    (your word about your first job in Essex, brought me beautiful memories from Brighton. Thanks for that :))

  11. I’m sorry to hear about your Mum Natalia, thank you for your kind comment. I like your approach, thank you for sharing it.

    Oh good, I’m glad to hear it triggered happy memories about Brighton for you, Rachel.

  12. Thank you very much Sam x

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