Lynda Bluestein’s Wind Phone

Lynda Shannon Bluestein’s fight against fallopian tube cancer — and her battle to end her life on her own terms — has inspired many people.

Earlier this year, the longtime member of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Westport reached a settlement with the state of Vermont. She will be the first non-resident to take advantage of a law that allows people with terminal illnesses to end their own lives.

She is now in hospice care. Time is short. But Lynda continues to inspire friends and strangers, in many ways.

Her creativity and generosity will be celebrated at the Unitarian Church’s worship service this Sunday (August 20, 10 a.m.).

Lynda will be joined by former endorsed community minister Dr. Debra Haffner in a conversation about life, death and joy. Then, Lynda will share her gift: the first wind phone in Fairfield County.

Rev. Debra Haffner and Lynda Shannon Bluestein.

Wind phones are physical objects, but also very spiritual. Originally from Japan, they are disconnected phone booths — a way to stay connected to loved ones who have died.

Garden designer Itaru Sasaki created the first wind phone in 2010, to help him cope with his cousin’s death. “Because my thoughts could not be relayed over a regular phone line, I wanted them to be carried on the wind,” he explained.

It was opened to the public the following year, after an earthquake and tsunami killed over 15,000 people. It has received over 30,000 visitors.

Since then, wind phones have been created in several US states, from parks to front lawns.

Lynda’s son constructed her wind phone.

Wind phone at Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island.

They are in public places, because they help normalize grief — which Western culture often considers private.

Sunday’s service will be both in person and livestreamed.


This will be a busy weekend for Lynda. On Saturday (August 19), she’ll be honored as the first-ever recipient of the Completed Life Initiative‘s Pioneer Award.

The Initiative is an advocacy and educational organization that promotes end-of-life self-determination and dignity. The award honors “an individual who has successfully advocated to expand a person’s ability to direct their end-of-life care, and who has, by their courageous example, empowered all indivduals to live a full and complete life.”

Lynda will receive her honor at at the group’s New York Film Festival. She was profiled in the New York Times last March.

5 responses to “Lynda Bluestein’s Wind Phone

  1. Assuming that relic of an SNET payphone is still standing at Exit 42, it would be nice to convert it to a wind phone. Not the quietest place but who knows, might be handy and helpful to many…

  2. My friend who is an end of life counselor at the Salk Institute in Florida – just supported her good friend with ALS in this process of choosing to die with dignity – in Washington DC where it is legal. All she did to honor her friends wishes, support him with his choice and be there with him- was admirable to say the least. Also one of my teachers -the regenerative business thought leader, speaker, author, educator Carol Sanford – has ALS too. She is in Oregon -where right to die with dignity is legal. She too is using her process and her choices – as a teaching tool that anyone can participate in. Thank you for bringing light to our right to die with dignity with your process as well – It is so important. Many blessings as you continue your journey. I love this wind phone ! Thank you for that too

  3. correction – Carol is in Washington State – Seattle area – where right to die with dignity is legal

  4. There’s a wonderful This American Life segment about the “wind phone” that I’m sure can be located at their website

  5. Sandra (G) Jones class of '64

    Thank you so much for this post today…as the class of Staples ’64 we are all aging and so many of us have lost classmates and friends in the past couple of years…knowing that this choice is out there should give us comfort and a way to deal with what may come our way in the future…
    Sandra Grunewald Jones

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