Teacher’s birdhouse aids in life after loss

Book to walk others through their grief

Kris Munsch, a Bonner Springs High School teacher, has written a book, “The Birdhouse Project,” about the grieving process.

? “It was absolute destruction. Not a piece of metal on the car was in its intended shape.”

This is the way Kris Munsch describes the wreckage of a car in which his son Blake was killed nearly five years ago.

Reflecting on the mangled mess and scattered debris of the accident still is hard for Munsch, a teacher at Bonner Springs High School. He’s been trying to pick up the pieces of his life since that day, Dec. 23, 2005.

Munsch’s rebuilding process has now been chronicled in a soon-to-be released book. Just as he had to rebuild his life, Munsch has created a book that walks other people consumed with grief through building a birdhouse, symbolizing something new being born out of crisis.

“I love telling the story of what I’ve been through,” Munsch said.

Although it may not be the easiest story, Munsch pushes through the pain, he said, because he sees value in the lessons and the life he’s lived.

After coming up with the concept of “The Birdhouse Project,” Munsch, a woodworking teacher, enlisted writing and editing help from BSHS English teacher Jeff Fouquet.

Together, the two constructed a brutally honest account of what, no matter how embarrassing, goes through a person’s head when trying to make sense of the pain caused by loss.

Munsch’s book begins with the tragic loss of his son. Pivotal moments, such as the last time he saw Blake and the phone call informing him of the accident, are revisited.

“What’s been most difficult is getting my thoughts and ideas to translate into written words,” he said. “It’s easy to say it because it’s like the words disappear. But if written, it doesn’t change. I was forced to really deal with it in that way.”

As the book progresses, Munsch turns the story on the reader and addresses the healing process.

“If each piece of the birdhouse is given a task or assigned specific symbolism and we put this meaning together to building something new, it can represent more than just walls and a roof,” he writes in the book.

Munsch directs his readers to put their thoughts and feelings on one side of six pre-cut boards so that when the pieces are assembled, their words are hidden inside, and something new is created in return.

“I will always be in the grieving process,” Munsch said. “I will forever grieve, but I will continue to grow.”

In the years following Blake’s accident, Munsch said he never was interested in picking up a traditional self-help book to help with the grieving process. So when it came time to write his own book, he wanted to steer clear of that idea.

Instead, Munsch said his book is a hands-on approach to grieving that asks readers to expose areas of themselves they might not even know are there.

“My hope is to reach people that go through any kind of loss,” Munsch said. “If you just let everything go and just expose yourself in the walls of this birdhouse, you’ll gain leaps and bounds.”

“The Birdhouse Project” will be available for purchase in early December, online at thebirdhouseproject.com or at Millers Too, 108 N. Nettleton, Bonner Springs.

Each book will come with pre-cut pieces to construct a birdhouse.

Eventually, Munsch said he would like to turn “The Birdhouse Project” into a series. While his first book was focused on the adult grieving process, he hopes to write versions, still using the birdhouse concept, for children, teens and families.

“It’s really started to take on a life of its own,” he said.