Outlet to call missed loved ones provides comfort, peace during holiday season
The holidays are here and maybe you are missing a loved one or a close friend, someone you simply just miss. A College Hill church has a space open to anyone who may need an outlet to vent, cry, grieve or simply just be.
It's a call that's offering a connection, all without stepping through the church doors.
Nestled in the nook of a church corner, warmth on a frigid November day can be found on a bench and by way of a phone.
“you know… it connects to Heaven... we say. It goes to nowhere, but to Heaven," Carolyn Harrison, a long-time member of East Heights United Methodist Church said. “Once someone dies, you lose that connection with them and that you feel like you want to pick up the phone and call them.”
This phone has no wires, but 40-plus-year member of the church, Carolyn Harrison says, the calls do buzz somewhere and says they are “phone calls to heaven".
“We have lost several members of our immediate family members in the last few years and you do... you feel like you want to talk to them sometimes.”
Maybe we all have someone we are missing.
“Here and now, the heartache is there and we miss those that we don’t see anymore. So this is a place where they can come and connect and find some sense of peace," Senior Pastor of EHUMC, Steve Spencer said.
As the holidays arrive, grief seems to tighten its unforgiving grip.
“As we get closer to the holidays, this is definitely a time when there is sadness and depression. People are really centering in on the loss of a loved one and really missing that person. When there is an empty chair at the table, people feel that grief. This might be just one way to find a little comfort during the holiday season," Pastor Spencer added.
Carolyn Harrison is someone who says the loss has struck her family one too many times over the years.
“People can come here and sit on the bench and pick up the phone and call and say “Hey. How was coffee this morning, Shirley? You really like coffee... and I bet in Heaven, that’s pretty good coffee"."
She explains how she uses this phone.
“….or they could say things like "I love you" or "goodbye" if you didn’t get to say those things.. or "I'm sorry"… whatever you need to say," she added.
Shirley is a family member Carolyn is referring to in the call.
“Shirley is my sister that just passed a month ago. We just had her service in Des Moines Iowa, but the other day I thought about her… I mean I think about her every day, but I wanted to call and just talk to her because I did that a lot," she said.
She also picks it [the phone] up to call her daughter, Bridget, who died in 2018.
“Bridget…it’s really cold… I know you didn’t like the cold. So winter is not a good time to be here in Kansas, I guess… but I know that you are safe... and....," she said.
It’s (the phone) staked right outside the church, but you don’t have to be a member of East Heights' congregation, or really any, to use it.
“People can walk by and sit down, maybe talk to God, talk to their loved ones and we hope that they’ll find some comfort in this, as they mourn the loss of people that are close to them, people that they miss and aren’t with them anymore," Pastor Spencer shared.
Senior Pastor of East Heights United Methodist Church, Steve Spencer, says with or without a faith background, you still miss the person you love.
“We trust that those that would want to use it will, and if not, that’s ok. If it just helps a few people, that’s wonderful. That’s why it’s a safe place and really sacred space to come and just sit and reflect and mourn… maybe cry… who knows… we just want people to find comfort during this season that can be so wonderful and yet, so challenging," he added.
He says when people visit the space, it's not monitored by church members, and those who wish to reflect there will do so peacefully and will have the place to themselves.
“I hope you get to see your baby grandson. It’s a hard time here without you. It was a good service in Des Moines to give you your accolades. Your daughters did a great job," Carolyn said on a call to Shirley.
While some say there couldn’t possibly be anyone on the other end of a phone, with no dial tone, and tacked up to a post... I guess that depends on who you call.
“I love you... bye-bye," Carolyn said as she hung up the phone.
The idea to bring an outlet like a phone to call a loved one came about after Carolyn and her husband Paul saw a similar story on TV. Carolyn thought 'making a call' was something she has been wanting to do with her daughter, her mother, and her sister, and thought maybe others would like to do the same for their loved ones or missed friends.
"We are hoping this will be a source of comfort and peace for members of our congregation and also our community," Pastor Spencer added.