When trying to cope with grief after the passing of a loved one, it can be difficult to know what to do. It’s not about learning how to let go of that person or let go of the grief, it’s about finding therapeutic ways of acknowledging the grief, remembering the person and metaphorically saying goodbye. To help those dealing with grief find peace and take steps toward celebrating their loved one’s life, Faith Presbyterian Hospice (FPH) hosted its annual Spring Memorial and Balloon Release on April 27. This event also reminded attendees they are not alone in their grief. Approximately 200 people came together at Faith Presbyterian Hospice’s T. Boone Pickens Hospice and Palliative Care Center – Marnie & Kern Wildenthal Education Center (12467 Merit Drive, Dallas TX 75251) to celebrate the individuals they lost who made a meaningful and significant impact on their lives.
“While we all grieve differently, it’s often very isolating. Each year, our goal is to bring people together through this event,” said Valerie Sanchez, director of bereavement for Faith Presbyterian Hospice. “Together, we write messages on our balloons, which are biodegradable and string-less. During this time, we share stories and memories of our loved ones. Then we release our balloons collectively into the sky, which serves as a metaphorical moment which honors our loved ones and shares our messages with them.”
Families were invited to an indoor memorial service held prior to the balloon release. During this time, attendees had the chance to write messages on their balloons before the send-off. By the time everyone is ready to do the release, most of the balloons are covered in memories, quotes and messages of love. Some families have turned the balloon release into a yearly tradition. Often, people will attend the memorial service and later create their own balloon releases to celebrate their loved one’s birthday or an anniversary.
“Some of the most powerful messages have come from kids wanting to send a message to their parent. The balloon release gives them a way to do just that. What might come as a surprise is they often cry, but they feel good about the process. That’s the healing part of grief in action,” says Sanchez.
It’s important for anyone dealing with the loss of someone significant to acknowledge their grief. For this reason, Faith Presbyterian Hospice encourages people to remember and share that person with people around them. Often, you don’t get the chance to say the name of those who have died. This event provides that opportunity and creates an environment in which everyone may share what they are going through, how much they miss their loved one and the attributes of that person that made them so special. This event can also be an opportunity for those who missed a funeral to grieve and say goodbye. The goal is not to let go of the person but to remember them. By doing this, Faith Presbyterian Hospice helps people cope with their grief in a healthy way while remembering their loved ones with honor and a joyful heart.
Advice for coping with grief:
- Recognize your grief and know there is no time limit on grief
- Know it is okay to feel fear, confusion, anger and sadness
- Grief doesn’t happen in phases or stages, and it doesn’t necessarily go away
- Finding a support group can help, as bonding with people in similar predicaments can help alleviate feelings of loneliness and isolation
- Major life changes or the loss of additional loved ones can trigger memories and grief reactions
- Always continue taking care of yourself
Advice and tips like the ones mentioned above are also covered in Faith Presbyterian Hospice’s monthly support groups. Faith Presbyterian Hospice has prepared a downloadable Directory of Grief Support Resources containing a list of our own monthly support groups, valuable references to individual grief therapists, counseling and support groups, websites, recommended reading and more.