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Langley hospice’s wind phone for connecting with those we’ve lost

Phone gives people space to talk to lost loved ones
Langley firefighters helped move and set up the 700 pound phone box at the Langley Hospice Society. (Langley Hospice Society/Special to the Langley Advance Times)

Langley Hospice Society has a new feature meant to help those who are grieving the loss of a loved one – a wind phone.

As hospice executive director Shannon Todd Booth explained when the phone was officially opened on Thursday, Jan. 26, the idea of the wind phone came from a Japanese garden designer, Itaru Sasaki, whose cousin died after a brief battle with cancer in 2010.

After that, Sasaki set up an old, disconnected phone booth in his garden so he would have somewhere to go to talk to his cousin, and reflect on his loss. The name wind phone came from the fact that his thoughts would be carried on the wind.

After the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that killed thousands of people in Japan, Sasaki opened up his phone to allow others to use it, and the concept began to spread internationally.

Langley’s wind phone is on the grounds of the Doug and Fran MacDonald Hospice Residence, which just opened last year, down the hill from the Langley Memorial Hospital.

It’s an old-fashioned red British phone box, and the design and installation was the brainchild of Heather Giuriato.

She found a company that was casting the booths, paid for it, and had it shipped to Langley.

Todd Booth noted that when it arrived, all 700 pounds of it, hospice staff quickly realized that getting it into place would be a challenge.

They reached out to the Langley Township Firefighters Charitable Society, which rounded up some willing volunteers. It took 10 firefighters to carry the phone box and get it into position.

After the ribbon cutting, by Giuriato and Langley Hospice Society president Kathy Derksen, Giuriato was the first person to pick up the phone.

“We hope this is an invitation for folks to come and have the conversations they need to have,” said Todd Booth.

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Heather Giuriato helped Langley Hospice Society acquire its new wind phone. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)

Matthew Claxton

About the Author: Matthew Claxton

Raised in Langley, as a journalist today I focus on local politics, crime and homelessness.
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