At some point in our lives, we're going to experience grief as we lose pets, family members, and friends. It's such a powerful force that grief can affect someone to the extent of severe depression, sometimes for years.

No one knows this like Bernadette Winters Bell, LMSW, PLLC, a life, loss, and grief therapist who has been working in her private practice in Oneonta, New York for several years helping people move through grief and heal. She even hosts a podcast called "From Heartache to Healing and Hope" available on Youtube but wanted to do something more for the community as it relates to grief.

She came up with a project idea called "Telephone of the Wind: Oneonta Connection" which she calls a "Bridge through Bereavement" where those grieving a loss, experiencing conflict with someone, or worried about a loved one who's gravely ill can take solace in a rustic "phone booth" in a secluded location in nature and "call" that person on the Telephone of the Wind - a person still living or gone whom they want to communicate with and express difficult feelings. Winters Bell says this process promotes healing. It may not be an actual working telephone but it is a great therapeutic tool to help someone feel better during difficult times. It was a concept that originated in Japan that she took and put her own spin on.

The idea for the "Telephone of the Wind: Oneonta Connection" project became a reality when Winters Bell received support to make it happen through a collaboration with the City of Oneonta, Oneonta Parks and Recreation, Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES), and the Alzheimer's Association.

The first Telephone of the Wind will be located in the lower level of Oneonta's Wilber Park, easily accessible from Spruce Street and the main trail in the lower level. This won't be the only Telephone of the Wind. Winters Bell is planning Bridges through Bereavement™ in the form of these rustic telephones in peaceful spots in other locations but needs to raise funds to do that. For anyone who is interested in donating to this wonderful project to help heal through bereavement, visit fromheartachetohealingandhope.com/special-projects.

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Oneonta is celebrating the grand opening of Telephone of the Wind: Oneonta Connection with a ribbon-cutting ceremony this Tuesday, June 14 at 1:30 pm in the lower level of Wilber Park, just past the pool. Bernadette Winters Bell will be on hand with some special guests and if you can't make it to the event, it will be live-streamed on From Heartache to Healing and Hope's Facebook page.

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