OLATHE, Kan. — A different way of coping with loss. An Olathe man helps build a pathway to health by building a windphone. It’s located at Lake Olathe.
Across from the Disc Golf Course sits a windphone — giving people a unique opportunity to grieve.
It doesn’t matter if you know your loved one’s number by heart, this is a place to get conversations off your chest.
“And you just have this view, and you just say what you need to say,” Jeff Ratzlaff said.
He’s a construction supervisor with the City of Olathe.
He had the idea after watching his wife cope with her sister’s recent tragic death. Her name is on a plaque above the windphone.
When you pick up the phone, there’s no dial tone – it’s not hooked up.
“It gives people an outlet to channel their grief,” Ratzlaff said. “Otherwise, they’re just bottling it up.”
Nora Canaan decided to pop the top on the emotions she’s been feeling. “Hi Grandpa,” she said. “I’m 10 now, my mom loves you, I love you and everyone misses you.”
At 10 years old, Canaan’s dealt with several losses. The death of three grandparents and two dogs.
She misses her grandpa — the best napping buddy and cheerleader in the stands at softball games.
“It’s really, really hard. especially since I play softball and we play tournaments,” Canaan said, “and he used to support me and stuff like that.”
She said these conversations carried off into the wind help.
“All the big things that happen since they’ve been gone,” Canaan said. “It helps you get them caught up. It makes it feel like they’re still here and you’re just like on the phone talking to them.”
Tim DeWeese with Johnson County Mental Health understands people grieve in different ways and said this is one avenue that can help.
“I think it will allow people to go there, remain grounded and recover,” DeWeese said, “and it’s kind of a message of hope.”
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And when people finally hang up the phone, Ratzlaff hopes they feel, “peace and serenity,” Ratzlaff said. “If you’re struggling with grief, find an outlet, find a windphone, a grave, a tree or even mental health programs.”
If people are continuing to grieve and need help, you can always call 988 for help.