Emotional Twitter thread reminds everyone of the good in social media

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Helen Booth
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The heartbreakingly relatable thread about grief has received more than 1,800 replies and been retweeted by JK Rowling and Ava DuVernay.

For anyone who’s ever lost someone close, the festive season can be especially tough.

It often means subtle, yet constant, reminders of the person who passed away – a forever incomplete gathering at Christmas, the presents you no longer need to pick out, the traditions that bring to mind loved ones no longer with us.

But, as one Twitter user observed this weekend, these reminders can also be simple, small and trip us up out of the blue.

Rachel Prior, head of film at Big Talk, took to Twitter on Saturday to make a quiet observation: “Nowhere and no time do I miss my dad more acutely than in the men’s department of M&S at Christmas.”

She followed up by adding, “If I see another reasonable priced, deep red angora mix sweater with a ribbon round it I’m going to actually have a breakdown.”

The thread of emotional replies that followed – now containing more than 1,800 messages from Twitter users who responded with their own everyday reminders of relatives who passed away – has now been retweeted over 1,300 times.

But what initially caught people’s attention was the fact one of her father’s former pupils noticed the tweet and got in touch with Prior to share her memories of him, something that touched many who read it.

Several users have now described the thread as an example of the good social media can do, bringing people together to remember loved ones and send virtual hugs across the internet.

Most of the heartbreakingly relatable tweets were as equally low-key as Prior’s original.

“Oh, this. Solidarity, pal,” reads one reply. “My kryptonite is literally any useless object made of pewter which can be engraved with initials for a small extra cost.”

Another user added: “This might sound daft, but when my Dad passed (4 years ago, now), I took possession of his aftershave (Old Spice). The bottle’s long-since finished, but I won’t throw it away.”

Many of those who replied to Prior’s tweet had stories that also involved M&S – including one user who admitted to wearing her dad’s old M&S talc when she feels stressed or low, and another who said she had spoken about her gran’s love for the store in her eulogy – which prompted some users to suggest that the much-loved department store might have already found a theme for next year’s Christmas advert.

The thread also elicited a few replies from celebrities. Singer Alison Moyet shared, “I played Southend tonight. Every time I have I was stressed because my parents were in the audience. This time I was aware that they were not.”

Director Ava DuVernay retweeted the thread and added, “I know the feeling. Blessings to you and all on this beautiful thread.”

Even JK Rowling shared the thread with her followers, adding, “This thread. Twitter really is wonderful sometimes” – and promptly brought in another 32,000 retweets.

Speaking to the BBC, Prior said of the astounding response to her original tweet: “Twitter has felt like a place overwhelmed by politics of hate, so this thread reminded me why I joined. It can be a place where people come together and support each other.”

“Everyone can connect to the loss of a loved one,” she added, thanking followers for the “tsunami surge of love” on her timeline.

Image: Ben White