One More Day: What Would You Do?

Coping with Grief / Coping with Grief : Eleanor Haley

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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.

Mitch Albom, For One More Day:
"Have you ever lost someone you love and wanted one more conversation, one more chance to make up for the time when you thought they would be here forever? If so, then you know you can go your whole life collecting days, and none will outweigh the one you wish you had back."

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.

One More Day, Diamond Rio
"One more day, One more time, One more sunset, Maybe I'd be satisfied, But then again, I know what it would do, Leave me wishing still, for one more day with you."

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10 Comments on "One More Day: What Would You Do?"

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  1. Andrea  April 17, 2022 at 7:40 am Reply

    Jesus knew he could resurrect people and he did as per the gospels. Being aware of it I would think that when somebody suffering in grief met Jesus to ask him to bring back their loved ones from death Jesus would smile with happiness as he knew he had the power to make people yo be alive again. However before performing the miracle Jesus cried as he understood that the pain is so unbearable and him as human felt for us even though he has the power over it. This is to reflect the immense suffering that death brings to our lives. We never will accept the death the ones we love but unfortunately our bodies are mortal and we cannot predict the future to avoid it. We live in a culture that avoid speaking of death which is the only certainty we have. If humanity could face this reality and talk openly about it we would enjoy more and say I love you often, we would make more efforts to forgive and making some sacrifices to be together instead only prioritize work and money. My advice is ask your loved ones about their feeings, their past, their stories. Do not dwell on the quarrels because they are part of human conexions as we learn to respect each other limit that way. The important is to admit our mistake and say sorry and hug. Record the conversations, pay attention to their details as face, movements. We never know when that bloody second will come that will turn our worlds upside down. Remember that our loved ones never wants us to be forever in grief as they love us and wants to live despite the fact they are not here anymore. If you die do you want your loved ones to be sad because if your death? So live your grief fully. Cry, be alone and don’t try to be strong. The only way to move foward is to cross the desert by yourself and than you are ready to live fully in honor of your loved ones that somewhere want you to be happy. We never accept death but we learn to adapt to the new life carting them in our hearts, memories and advices and example they shared with us.

  2. C Bruner  August 5, 2021 at 3:16 pm Reply

    My precious husband died 10 years ago. I would trade a year for a day, for even 5 minutes. He died in a coma in intensive care, so we didn’t have time to talk at all. Mostly I would like to say I’m sorry for some choices I made and ask for his forgiveness. Then I just want to touch hug and talk about everything. He knew how much I loved him… but I would love to say it a few more dozen times.

  3. Sean McConnell  August 5, 2021 at 1:23 pm Reply

    One more day, I’d get my two brothers together with her and tell her about our lives. Ten years have gone by and I think about that all the time. I would ask for advice and words of wisdom. I would have her tell us more about her and what she hopes for our futures. One more day to talk with her would be amazing.

  4. Brett  July 9, 2021 at 4:49 pm Reply

    My mom is about to die…congestive heart failure and she has maybe two weeks. Once hospice begins giving her morphine I know it is hours. So here I am about to return home from military war zone to be with my mother and I don’t know what to say or focus on. I may have to return before she actually dies but the military is allowing me time to say a last goodbye, which I believe is a tremendous gift. I’m just trying to prepare myself for what I should say as opposed to her dying and asking myself “I should have said this or that”. So I’m reaching out to you and your readers as to “what I should say” given their experiences.

  5. Christine Lomas  May 29, 2021 at 3:30 am Reply

    One more day with my Mum? Definitely, without a doubt! Nearly four years ago, I saw my poor Mum for the last time in hospital. I only stayed with her a short time then left believing I would see her again the next day. I didn’t. She died the afternoon I left. I am left heartbroken because I never told her I loved her. I have so many regrets because I know I only ever thought about myself before she died. Only my faith in God has helped me.
    Yes, I would give the world (never mind a year!) to be able to say just this: ‘I’m sorry Mum and I love you’. I would say to anyone out there who still has parents, please tell them you love them before it’s too late. They may have their faults, but we ALL do! Read the poem ‘To A Rebellious Daughter’ by Fay Inchfawn. I hope the words of this poem will touch someone’s heart and change it – for the better.

  6. Sara  October 1, 2015 at 11:25 pm Reply

    It’s been 7 years since mother was ripped away at 49 n me being lockedup stole our last goodbye n I still feel just as horrible as if it was yesterday…

  7. Cassandra  April 27, 2013 at 2:49 pm Reply

    Thanks for the reply. I did read Calebwilde’s post . At the moment I’m too numb to even notice if I’ve had a faithquake. All I want to be, really, is out of pain.

    I’m embarrassed at how self absorbed I must sound. My father lived a huge life, a rich life, saw all his biggest dreams come true and died without too much suffering. Was loved like crazy and loved like crazy in return. We saw him daily. For goodness sake, I have so little to be miserable about!But I am. So miserable right now.

    Well anyway, I think it was tooling around your blog that I read the challenge that said, (or maybe not and this is a total train wreck compared to the actual quote) “Do you really want to do something toward feeling better? Because that’s the first step. The decision to not live in misery”

    Life is just kind of happening to me right now. My next phase will be, must be, choosing joy.


    • Litsa  April 27, 2013 at 4:07 pm Reply

      You should not feel bad about feeling self-absorbed, because we have all been there in some way, shape, or form. Grief makes us all self-absorbed! So often it isn’t about the rational suff — we may know someone lived a wonderful life, that we are so lucky for the time we had together, that we have wonderful memories, etc. But it doesn’t change the pain. The pain lives in a whole different part of us – not the rational part, and it can be hard to think about anything but the pain.

      Making the decision to do something (anything!) is a huge step. My experience is that the decision do something with my grief, rather than just let it control me, was such an important shift. Did everything change right way? Was every day a good day? Not even close. But by taking control and making choices, eventually the good days started to outweigh the bad. For me creative expression has helped in this shift. Taking that grief an using it to create something can be empowering. It can remind us that we have some control. It can remind us that there is still hope. Wishing you the best as you make your decision to choose joy …

  8. Cassandra  April 24, 2013 at 10:30 am Reply

    Though my father died three months ago, I am still in a post grief stupor. I stumbled upon your blog this morning. Ofcourse I would covet another day with my dad but even the concept burdens me.
    It quietly says that I am likely not present enough for the people who are in my life now.
    This is what I cannot reconcile. My dad died and I am not coping. Assuming that I live longest, I have my husband, kids, mom and siblings and their children – all of whom matter as much or nearly as much. How will I sustain the inevitable loss of so many deaths (yet to come!).
    Rather than improving, since my dad died my pain is increasing exponentially.
    Even as and maybe especially because I am a Christian, I struggle to see the point (of life, of recovery).

    • Eleanor  April 24, 2013 at 8:12 pm Reply

      Cassandra, I don’t have the benefit of knowing you personally, but it sounds like you feel as though you should be coping better and you feel a bit torn between your grief and the people in your life. I want you to know that it’s not uncommon to continue to struggle after 3 months. We all grieve in different ways and on different timelines. For many people the extent and the depth of the loss doesn’t even sink in until weeks afterwards. Take your time and go easy on yourself.

      Of course if you continue to feel stuck for longer than your comfortable with and you feel that your struggle is impacting your life in adverse ways, you might consider attending a support group or speaking with a counselor. Hopefully you know yourself and what will work for you.

      I also understand how scary and alienating it can be to question your faith, but this is normal too. I just read a post by a man named Caleb Wilde, he refers to this experience as a ‘faithquake’. He had a few practical suggestions for dealing with and working through doubts. If your interested it can be found at the following link…

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