The 5 Stages of “Grief” (as Told by a Toddler)

I’m having the time of my life. I just got back from a dentist checkup, and they even let me move the chair up and down all by myself! They gave me a sticker for doing such a good job. They ran out of Chase Paw Patrol stickers, so I had to settle for Sky. Which is kind of rude because she’s my fourth favorite. Then, as we were leaving they gave me the biggest balloon ever! It was almost as big as my Spider-Man hopper ball. This is the best day ever!

At home I’m playing with my new balloon and loving life. I pull on the string to make it go up and down. I throw it to Mommy and Daddy and they throw it back. This is so much fun! Hey, wait a minute — this balloon is so big, maybe I can bounce on it like my hopper ball. I roll on it for a bit and Mommy warns me that “it might pop.” Hah! What does she know!

I try it a few more times, laughing to myself. And then before I know it, I hear a loud sound — POP! And suddenly I’m on the floor.

Denial

How did this happen? One minute I was bouncing on my balloon and now I’m on the ground. Where did my balloon go? It’s not touching the ceiling anymore. These tiny yellow pieces attached to the string can’t possibly be MY balloon! This is a grave mistake. Except that Mommy and Daddy are telling me what happened. NNNNOOOOO!!!!!!!!!

Anger

This can’t be happening!!! I. Am. So. Mad. How could this happen to me? That was the best balloon ever.

Bargaining

I’ll get a new balloon. Maybe there’s one in the refrigerator. Or under the sink. There has to be a surplus of balloons around here somewhere. I know these people are holding out on me. I’ve frantically checked under every piece of furniture and in and around every major appliance and can’t find another balloon.

Depression

This is the worst day ever. Not even the promise of ice cream for dessert and getting to binge watch “Spidey and His Amazing Friends” can make me feel better. How will I ever go on?

Acceptance

It’s gone. It’s really gone. I don’t like it, but I know I can get another balloon another time. And I won’t pop it next time. At least I don’t think I will.

Lesley grew up in New Bedford, MA, came to Boston for college, and stuck around. She holds a master's degree in criminal justice and an MFA in creative writing. Lesley is a playwright and has had her work produced in Boston, New York, New Hampshire, Virginia, and Texas. Lesley lives in Dorchester with her husband and 3-year-old son. She is a proud and unapologetic "one and done" mom. Lesley loves traveling, true crime docs and inspired scripted series, reading, coffee, face masks, and family game nights.

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