Family & Education

The strongest woman I knew

Michaela Silverstein, a former JFS student, explains why she has released a charity single in memory of her grandma


Michaela Silverstein, 24, is a former JFS and Sinai student who lives in Shenley, Hertfordshire. She has just released her first charity single for The Peace Hospice in Watford, where her grandma, Judy Newman, spent her last few weeks. Here she explains why:

I lost my grandma about 18 months ago to pancreatic cancer. She was only 72 years old and meant the world to me and my family , I spoke to her almost every day and saw her at least two to three a week. We would have lunch in the same place almost every weekend.

My grandparents were a massive part of my childhood (my grandpa still is). They would do anything and everything for myself and my sister and, because they lived only five minutes down the road, they would pop over whenever – and we would do the same.

Even when my grandma was suffering, she would always put us first. She had been ill from a very young age with Crohn's disease, which they didn't know a lot about when she was younger, and didn’t treat her properly. She suffered everyday of her life but no one would know. In fact, if I ever felt ill, she was the first on the phone the second she knew.

She would send a card and money for every achievement, big or small. And she would claim to be there watching us at every interview and exam. She also signed every card with a stick woman and a chubby stickman. She pretended these were her and my grandpa, and that’s why the picture of the song is a stick woman. It is a photo of one of one of the stick woman that she had drawn.

During my grandma’s last six weeks, she was moved into the Peace Hospice who made her last weeks as comfortable as they could possibly be. Not only did they support my grandma, but they supported my whole family (which included my mum, sister and me, my grandpa, my mum’s sister and two older cousins). I felt a bit sorry for the hospice they had my crazy family running around there, but they still treated us amazingly well.

When my grandma passed away it hit me really hard, I had never lost someone so close before.

I wasn’t sure how to act and what to do, but in a way I was really lucky that my grandparents had built this amazing family bond between all of us. I guess this is the reason we all managed to get through the heartbreak.

I didn’t actually write the song until the first anniversary of my grandma’s death, Maybe it was the first time I felt ok to admit I was hurting.

I still had all these feelings bottled up and had found no other way to release them, so I started to write things down and make up tunes in my head. I even woke myself up at 1am singing different tunes for the verse or chorus. I’d then record them on my phone, so I wouldn't forget them.

When I finally thought I had all the pieces for my song I contacted my musical genius friend Daniel Marks (we went to JFS together). We sat down, I sung him the tunes and words and he just played along. Dan really helped bring the song to life.

I didn’t really think about doing much with the song. I showed my mum it and she loved it but I guess all mothers have to! However, she suggested releasing it as a charity single for the hospice which I thought was a great idea.

She spoke to some people about how to release it via iTunes and Amazon then I guess we went from there. I don’t expect anything to come from the song and it’s hard to raise a lot of money from just 79p per purchase but I want to give back to the hospice as much as I can.

At the start I wrote this song for me, so I could release my pain, but now it’s so much more than that. I think people can relate to it because unfortunately we all experience a feeling of loss.

However, it is very scary letting other people hear your songs. You’re not just being judged on how you sound, or what your lyrics say, but people are judging your feelings.

The most important thing is to remember my grandma, Judy. She was just one of the most amazing women in the world and I wish I had had longer with her. She was the strongest woman I know.

You can download Michaela’s song via iTunes



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