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Current Affairs

Making a Connection With the Dead

Many in the grips of grief will find it hard to face a visit to the grave of a loved one, while some may be unable to make the journey. Now, help is at hand thanks to the slightly macabre "Phone Angel."

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"Phone Angel" father Bröther

A German inventor has come up with a novel way for relatives coping with the grief of losing a loved one to convey their feelings to the departed. The "Phone Angel," a long-life battery powered cell phone device, allows those in mourning to have contact with the deceased when personal pain, distance or disability prevents them from attending the final resting place.

Not to be confused with a seance or ouija board, the Phone Angel doesn't promise to put you in touch with the spirit world but intends to provide comfort for those coming to terms with their loss by opening the airwaves. And, although it may seem like a bizarre and slightly macabre idea, Jürgen Bröther from Osnabrück has already sold three of the devices at €1,500 ($1,953) a piece.

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"Sorry, I can't come to the phone right now but if you'd like to leave a message..."

"People who are ill, have no time or live too far away to visit the deceased in their grave can now call," said Bröther in an interview with the Associated Press. The inventor added that the thought came to him when his mother showed an unwillingness to attend a relative's grave but would have liked to keep in touch with the person laid to rest there.

Long life battery keeps the airwaves open

The device -- consisting of a cell phone, a super strength battery and a small loudspeaker -- comes in a waterproof container the size of an average shoe box which is placed in the earth about 30 centimeters (11.8 inches) above the grave. Thanks to two years of collaborating with an electrician, Bröther has developed a battery which will allow grieving friends and family almost a year of contact.

Using an application that most modern mobile phones have, automatic call response, Bröther's invention allows every caller to get through. The Phone Angel clicks on and allows communication as if someone on the other end had picked up the receiver. Unlike the recipient of the call, the line is very rarely dead.

Once the battery has run down, the temptation would be to just cut the losses and leave the device in the ground. But Bröther has thought of that. As a result, with the Phone Angel just 30 cm below the surface, it can be dug up and returned once the grieving period is over. Customers who exercise this right are rewarded with a €50 refund.

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