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.”