I recently stumbled on the results of a study conducted in 2009 by Comfort Zone Camp. They polled 1,006 adults who had experienced a death, many of them as children. They asked them all sorts of questions and their findings were really interesting.
One finding, in particular, struck me far deeper than any of the others though, as it revealed the response to a question I find impossible to answer. It stated…
56% of respondents who lost a parent growing up would trade a year of their life for one more day with their departed parent.
One year for one day, what a fascinating bargain.
24 hours…1440 minutes…the thought is intoxicating.
I can see it now. The day is a perfect 75 degrees and a gentle breeze is blowing through the big oak tree in my backyard. My children are on their best behavior and my husband is in a delightful mood. My mother and I spend the entire day on my patio drinking Crystal Light (her favorite).
We talk all day long about meaningful things. She tells me secrets I never knew about her and shares all of her wisdom. I tell her the things I’ve always wished I’d said and I recount all the times I’ve wondered ‘what would mom do’. I tell her I never took her for granted. She tells me she’s proud of me.
I hear her voice. I feel her embrace. She meets my children. She sees that I’m okay. We sit in silence during that beautiful time of day right before the sun goes down and neither of us feels uncomfortable or impatient. As the sun starts to slowly set I look at my mother and suddenly think….OH MY GOD, I ONLY HAVE 4 HOURS LEFT!!!
Frantically I realize that once again time is taking her away from me and I have no ability to stop it. Quick! Can I memorize her voice? Her smile? Her touch? How can I possibly let her go this time?
Is the heartache of my mother slipping away from me all over again worth one more hug; one more opportunity to say, “I love you mom”; a few more moments where I can feel like all is right in the world?
What would I do with one more day with my loved one? Truthfully, I have no idea if I would even have the courage to take it.
But then I think how some nights I wish with all my heart for her to appear in my dreams. When she does it feels amazing and for a few minutes, it’s as if she’s truly alive. Of course, she’s gone the moment I wake up and all I’m left with are vague memories and a horrible grief hangover. I spend the morning in a fog, struggling to remember the details of the dream that’s almost dissolved. I miss her worse than I did the day before and I feel the kind of longing that takes your breath away. It’s a horrible, heavy feeling.
Still, do I wish for the dream to come again? Of course I do. I don’t even hesitate to trade a half-day of misery for a few minutes of subconcious contact. Isn’t this the same trade-off on a smaller scale?
So here’s my question to you, are you one of the 56% who would trade a year of your life for one more day? Take the ‘trade’ out of the equation, would you even want the day knowing it would have to end? What would you say to your loved one? What would you do? Do you know? Take a few minutes to think about it. Get out a piece of paper (or your journal) and write it down. If you’re open to it, share it with us in the comments below.
Let’s be honest, if you don’t bookmark ‘What’s Your Grief’ now you will probably forget about us. If you’re interested in following along with the conversation, the most reliable way is to subscribe over there on the right side of your screen.