Have you ever wanted to talk to a loved one who has died? Some people will make trips to gravestones, send text messages or write a letter. In 2010 a Japanese garden designer set up an old rotary telephone in memory of his cousin, inviting anyone that needed to to use it, to say a goodbye that they weren’t able to in person. Since then, ‘Phones of the Wind’ have spread across the globe with phones being placed in Wales and Ireland.
The first phone is still located in its original spot - in an unconnected telephone booth in Ōtsuchi, Iwate Prefecture, Japan. After the horrific earthquake in 2011, tens of thousands of people found comfort in speaking to their lost relatives. The owner of the phone, Itaru Sasaki, estimates that well over 35,000 people have found comfort by speaking to this empty phone.
“The Phone of the Wind is the place for “prayer” but not connected to any religion.”
The idea soon spread. First through the US and Canada, where there are now dozens of Phones to the Wind, and then into Europe. The first to be erected in Ireland was vandalised after just a few weeks, but another soon took its place and has remained ever since. In the UK, there is a phone in Wales, on Anglesey, looking out over the Irish Sea. The words attached to the phone read:
"This phone is for everyone who has lost a loved one. The phone is an outlet for those who have a message they wish to share with their lost family and friends. It is a phone for memories and saying goodbyes you never got to say."
The phone on Anglesey
Many of the phones around the world offer similar sentiments. Often, they are dedicated to a specific person who has died but offer an outlet to everyone. The original phone booth in Japan is decorated with flowers, art and poetry. Others have been adorned with flowers and plants. Some are housed in elaborate lodges, some have been left with a comfortable chair to sit on while you talk. But all of the phones are free, all can be accessed by anyone in need, and they all share the same purpose.
To help people with their grief by conveying their thoughts to their lost loved ones.
If you are struggling with grief, our Help & Resources section has details of grief support organisations that may be able to help.