Balloons for Mimi: Helping children through the grief process
My grandmother, more affectionately known to her great grandkids as Mimi, passed away nearly 4 years ago. Each year on her birthday, we send balloons up to heaven for her. Each one has a special wish attached to it. Each one represents the love we have for her that will never fade.
My daughter, Maya, was 3 years old when Mimi passed, and my son Brayden had just turned 1. Some say that is too young for kids to remember. I know, and my kids can tell you, it’s simply not true. They not only remember their Mimi, but they ask for her frequently, and still cry for her sometimes.
Just a few weeks back, we were playing with a mirror compact that my grandmother had given me. Maya sat back and started to tear up. She said,”I miss Mimi. I miss her so much.” I reassured her we will see her again in heaven. Brayden chimed in to say, “But it’s taking a REALLY long time, Mommy!”
I reminded them that in a few weeks, we would be able to send our balloons up to Mimi for her birthday and she would get them in heaven. They calmed down, and for the moment, it seemed to make it ok.
Mimi lived a full life, a good life. There were some hardships as we all have, but all in all, she was blessed. WE were blessed. Knowing this helped me to move past my grief. But how do you explain this concept to children? Their world is black and white. You’re either here or you’re not. The shade of grey is lost on them. But this is one concept they totally understand.
Each year, on Mimi’s birthday, we send balloons up to heaven. The kids make their wish, they say their prayer and they let them go. It’s become a beautiful way to remember a lady who meant so much to us, it is fitting and it is beautiful.
What might not be as obvious is that letting go of these balloons in some small way allows us to let go of our grief. When we release that balloon into the air, we let it go. We give it up to God. She belongs to the ages now, and with the wind she shall be.
So if you happen see a balloon flying through the air, just know that what you might actually be seeing is a very special wish on its way to heaven. And know that there might be two kids who are grieving just a little bit easier because of it.