For most of us, birthdays are a day of celebration. We laugh, we celebrate and we spend time with those that we love. What if you reach a birthday and the person you want to celebrate isn’t there? What do you do? Our family was recently faced with this exact question as we quickly approached our brother’s 29th birthday.
Birthdays were always a big deal for Chris. It was important for him to celebrate and to have fun. But this year – he wouldn’t be there to celebrate his special day.
Our family contemplated what to do. Do we stay home and pretend like it doesn’t exist? Do we gather together and just have a small family dinner? Do we gather our friends and family and do something as a big group? Big group it was!
Our closest friends and family were invited out to his gravesite on his birthday for a balloon release. The day of his birthday, it rained…a lot. We honestly thought that people wouldn’t show…but they did. Friends and family that loved Chris traveled in to join us to celebrate a very special person.
Was it sad? Yes, of course. We learned one important thing though – it’s ok to laugh and have fun. We all laughed and joked that it was Chris making it rain on us. We laughed that some of the balloons wouldn’t take flight because of the rain. We laughed because our kids were soaking wet and covered in mud from the rainfall. We just laughed about a lot of different things.
As balloons were handed out one by one, we sang “Happy Birthday” and released our balloons into the air as if we were sending them to him in Heaven.
Celebrating a birthday after loss doesn’t have to be sad. It’s ok to miss your loved one and wish they were still here. Just know it’s also ok to laugh and smile as you remember your loved one, too. After all, they would probably be laughing right there alongside you if they were still here, too!
Written by: Mandy Montgomery, donor sister
- Remembering Tommy at the Indiana Donor Network 5k
- Tissue Donor Hero: Justin