Grief is a complex and winding journey.
When you’re moving through it, it’s not straightforward. Like a trail in the wilderness, it can take unexpected turns. Nestled within Stark County’s Quail Hollow Park lies a serene sanctuary where those navigating the pain of loss can discover solace in an unconventional way.
This haven takes the form of a modest wooden booth along the Nature For All Trail, harboring a lone stool and a disconnected telephone – an open-air refuge known as a “wind phone.”
In a world perpetually bustling with noise and distraction, the wind phone stands as a testament to the power of silent conversations. This unique offering invites individuals to communicate with lost loved ones, channeling their emotions into the whispering wind that carries their unspoken words.
The concept of the wind phone found its origin in the heart of grief-stricken Japan. After a devastating tsunami claimed the lives of nearly 15,000 people in 2011, a man from Otsuchi created the first wind phone. It quickly gained recognition for providing a safe space for healing conversations, inspiring others to follow suit.
The spark for the Wind Phone in Stark County ignited from the ashes of personal tragedy. Daria Sherman, a Canton mother, experienced the crushing pain of losing her son, Paul, in a work-related accident in 2012.
Grief became her impetus for change – she pursued a Ph.D. in philosophy and poured her emotions into writing. In 2021, fate struck once more when her son-in-law, Chris Rohr, unexpectedly passed away from cardiac arrest.
One restless night, in the depths of her own grief, Sherman discovered the wind phone concept on social media. The idea resonated deeply with her, and she decided to bring this unique form of solace to her community.
Collaborating with Matt Frey, her other son-in-law and owner of a local construction business, the wind phone began to take shape. Drawing on input from Rohr’s father, business partner, and Stark Parks, Frey carefully designed and crafted the booth.
On a tranquil day in May 2022, the wind phone officially found its place within Quail Hollow Park, nestled among the trees, waiting to carry messages on the wind. This simple structure serves as a living tribute to the loved ones who have departed, while also offering a sanctuary for those who still mourn their loss. Daria Sherman and Matt Frey’s vision is rooted in the hope that the wind phone becomes a source of comfort and healing, guiding others through their own grief journeys.
As the world rushes forward, the wind phone stands as a reminder that there is beauty in slowing down, in reflecting, and in sharing the echoes of our hearts with those who can no longer listen. Through the gentle rustling of leaves and the embrace of nature’s embrace, the wind phone allows us to find a quiet haven to process our emotions and seek solace on our winding paths of grief.
Quail Hollow is located at 13480 Congress Lake Ave NE, Hartville, OH 44632. For more info about the park, please visit starkparks.com.
Featured image via State Parks Facebook.