Family shocked to receive text messages from dead grandmother's mobile phone

Family of Lesley Emerson had been sending messages to the phone she was buried with, but never expected a reply

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The Independent Online

A family who buried their beloved grandmother with her mobile phone is in shock after receiving text messages from her – seemingly from beyond the grave.

The elderly lady’s granddaughter had been texting the phone as part of her grieving process, never expecting to get a reply.

But she was shocked when she got a comforting message on her nan’s number telling her that she was being watched over.

“I’m watching over you, you’ll get through this, you’ll be alright”, the text said.

Sheri Emerson, 22, a care worker from South Shields, asked who she was speaking to, and received another text: “I’m watching over you and it’s all going to get better. Just push through.”

“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?’” Miss Emerson told MailOnline.

“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.”

Sheri’s grandmother, Lesley Emerson, lost her battle with cancer at the age of 59. She was a prolific texter, a fact that had originally prompted her family to bury her with her mobile phone.

“Obviously we know that Nan wasn’t going to ever reply, it was just something we did as a comfort for ourselves because she loved to text,” Miss Emerson explained.

The mystery was later solved when it was revealed that her grandmother’s number had been re-allocated by her mobile phone company to someone else.

It is not clear whether the person texting back wanted to play a cruel prank on the family, or was acting in good faith and trying to make Miss Emerson feel better.

After being contacted by the family, the new owner of the number said that he thought his friends were playing a prank on him after the string of anonymous texts had started appearing on his phone.

“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,” Sheri said.

Mrs Emerson’s son Graham said he had received assurances from the mobile phone provider O2 that his mother’s number would never be used again.

Graham said: “After my mam died I rang O2 and said can I pay to ensure they did not use the number.

“They said there was no need as they would disconnect it and it would be hers.

“We are a big family of texters, if we ever fell out or had something to say, we'd always just send a message, that's why we buried her with her phone.

“So to think someone else now has our mam's number is just awful, we can't believe O2 has done this.

“I can't bear to visit mum's graveside. For me that was a way to still feel connected to her.”

O2 said that disconnected numbers can be reused, and that this fact should have been explained to the family. The company is now liaising with the new provider of the number, Giffgaff, to try to retrieve it for the family.