<p>Rachael Smart went viral after tweeting her touching story about her grandad.</p>

Rachael Smart went viral after tweeting her touching story about her grandad.

Rachael Smart

A moving story about a grandfather’s dying wish has gone viral on Twitter and has led to thousands sharing their own personal stories in response.

On April 9, Rachael Smart posted her own personal story about how her grandad, Cyril Oliver Wright, had asked her to dance when she saw his “light start to go out”.

A former tap dancer in her youth, Rachael “gave him some triple time steps” at the hospital when he was “on his way”.

In the full tweet she says: “Thinking about my grandad. In hospital, aged 94, and he said: when you see my light start to go out, will you dance for me? So I did and I did it with commitment. And he said to the nurses, don’t mind her, she’s just my whole world and I’ve asked her to see me on my way.”

The tweet has now has more than 197,000 likes and nearly 10,000 retweets.

Rachael explained to Indy100 why she wanted to share her deeply personal memory with her followers.

“I’m a writer and use social media as a platform, or perhaps more of a digital jotter, for very tightly structured fiction or memoir.

“My grandfather died eight years ago - although followers assumed it was in real time. I was in the bath thinking about the last few days of his life, how we always communicated by humour and I just thumbed the tweet out.”

Nothing could have prepared Rachael for the hundreds of thousands of likes: “It floored me,” she said.

But Rachael could understand why her tweet resonated with so many people.

She added: “Death is one of those universal things. People have shared their own final moments, exquisitely painful and private, and not always positive. It has been a thread of celebration, I think.”

People thanked Rachael for the story and said they were moved by her experience:

Depressingly, Rachael has also received so much abuse from some users that it has caused her to turn off her messages:

“I have thousands of new followers and have received hundreds of direct messages, mainly from men, and of a misogynistic nature. Assuming I want a dialogue with them. Commenting on my profile photo. Sending pictures of themselves. I had to turn off messages. I felt violated.

“That said, I had some positive messages expressing how much they liked the tweet and identified with it.”

It also prompted people to open up and reply with their own experiences of losing a loved one:

Rachael said she felt “deeply touched that complete strangers felt bold enough to make themselves vulnerable on a public forum.”

She paid tribute to her grandad, describing him as “the most beautiful man I’ve known to date.”

“We were inseparable,” she said. “A former scaffolder and PE instructor, he was still cycling when he was in his late eighties. Raised three girls independently - my mum lost her mum, aged 12, to cancer. The kind of man who could hold a room with a few words.”

This personal story – and the thousands of responses – demonstrates how we will all go through grief and loss at some point during our lives, but it’s sharing those memories of lost loved ones that might just help keep their memory alive.

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