Nowadays, people no longer release balloons when loved ones die. For a long time, people did. They sent balloons into the sky, hoping they’d reach heaven or anywhere above the pain, heartbreak, and loss. They sent wishes and prayers up into the air, watching until they were no longer visible.
A sentiment that makes complete sense for the lost and brokenhearted. When someone you love dies, pieces of you immediately evaporate into thin air. They become just as lost as the person who left this world. Sometimes, even the air inside of you escapes, leaving you breathless and drained.
Releasing balloons won’t bring back your loved one. It won’t deliver the messages and wishes of your heart to places beyond the clouds and sky. But there is something about watching beautiful things floating high that feels free and comforting. It’s as if we’re acknowledging the delicate way our loved ones floated off into eternity, even if you don’t believe in heaven and a higher power.
There is something hopeful about watching shiny things dance into the sky, as if love and influence are the things operating their journey. It’s as if the release alone gives you breath back, while providing a distraction from the mutilation and destruction of grief.
It gives you something to watch and something to admire.
It gives hope, even if misguided and created by illusion.
It gives a way to let go, with grace, beauty, and elegance.
There is power in making the choice to let something go. We don’t get that choice with death and losing those we love. That’s why choosing to let something go, choosing when and how to release, feels powerful. As if control has been given back to us, if even for a moment.
There are safer ways to honor our lost loved ones, but the symbolism of releasing balloons isn’t lost on me. I feel that desperate desire to let go, to breathe again, to watch something graceful instead of the realistic destruction that remains. I feel that need, that intention, to expose your grief, honoring it even.
As if with each balloon you’re silently saying,
“There it goes. Pieces of me, and the entire being of them.
There it goes, out of my reach, out of my vision.
There it goes, life as I knew it.
There it goes, gone, but beautiful and filled.
Filled with pieces of my heart, air from my lungs, and love that could never fade.”
Grief knocks us down, debilitated and in pain. People reach for balloons because they float, and they fly, and because when released, they keep rising, keep soaring, and keep moving higher and higher.
A symbol of hope and awakening.
A symbol of rising.
A symbol of love.
For eco-friendly alternatives to honoring loved ones, check out: 10 Non-Polluting Memorial Ideas
A wife, mother and educator who has Indiana roots and a passionate spirit. Chelsea is a sappy romantic, coffee junkie, book collector, and person who wears her heart on her sleeve. She’s sarcastic, full of jokes, full of tears, and enjoys writing most when life gets messy or complicated. In 2017, Chelsea's mother passed away. Through her grief journey, she decided to take her mother’s advice and share her writing with the world. One day she gained the courage to honor her mother's wishes and write. It turned out to be one of the best decisions she's ever made.
Those are beautiful words, Chelsea!!!
I know it’s not necessarily environmentally friendly, but I always find it comforting and soothing to watch my helium balloons fly away – I always let my balloons go.
I recently had a birthday and my brother took me out for dinner AND gave me an absolutely giant bouquet off colorful mylar balloons. I put on my shortest, cutest little black dress, $20 sheer black pantyhose and my favorite heels…my older brother said I looked “incredible”. And as we waited on a bench outside our favorite restaurant for our table I snuggled close to my brother and released my balloons…people gasped, thinking I’d accidentally lost my gift, but I’d intentionally let them go. I thought he’d be mad as they were probably very expensive, but my brother just put his arm around me as we both watched my balloons slowly fly away until they were finally lost from sight.