If You Had Five More Minutes . . . What Would You Say?

It’s been four months since my mom died and that question keeps coming up over and over in my head.  

“If I had five more minutes with my mom, what would I say?”

I’m not sure why I’ve limited myself to five minutes, but I’d guess it has something to do with the bargaining we do when someone we love so dearly, passes.

If you’ve lost someone, maybe you understand this routine: you lay down at night, shut the light and play the scenario in your head over and over. “What would I tell her? What might she say to me?” Each time I picture it, there’s a sense of urgency – like I know that five minutes just won’t be enough. And like many of our conversations when she was still here, we dive into the topic of my kids. I know she’d want to know about them – I tell her how well they’re doing, that they’ve adjusted to their new school and a new environment, that my son is now taller than me and that I’m white knuckling through teaching my daughter to drive. I assure her that I’m fine and that my sister and I are closer than we’ve ever been. And of course I tell her about our new dog Indie – she’d love Indie. I hold her hand (which I loved) and tell her it’s all good – it’s just not the same without her. Often I cry. Often I feel that void I’m told never goes away. Rarely, though do I feel the comfort I am seeking.

Have you ever noticed that you play out scenarios like these to find some comfort or get something out you weren’t able to before? 

With any kind of loss – whether it’s divorce, death, or simple separation – it’s natural to play out these scenarios. Sometimes you do it just to get some anger out. Sometimes it’s a chance to have a conversation you wish you had. You’ve heard people say it too: “if only I had five minutes . . . “

The thing is, though, those five minutes usually aren’t helpful for healing because they are full of bargaining or what if’s. They’re usually an expression of what you wish might be different now – a return of a loved one, a relationship that no longer is. They usually take you further away from acceptance of what really is – closing the door to new opportunity. 

And that’s what some of my conversations were with my mom. They were a fantasy that ultimately left me a little empty. So, that’s when it dawned on me that instead of holding onto those five minutes as a way to recapture what was – what if I used those five minutes as a daily practice to connect with my mom in a different way?

Instead of trying to fill a void, what if simply “talking” to my mom became a daily practice?

I know that might sound a little crazy, but bear with me.

When someone you love is suddenly gone – for whatever reason – it leaves a space. You might try filling it with things, staying busy or with other people – and that often backfires. Because the truth is you’re still holding on to what you miss. Imagine instead of wishing for more – giving yourself daily permission to “talk” to the person you lost. That might mean you allow for daily conversation by writing a letter, talking out loud in the car while driving or even looking at pictures and “talking” to them.

It gives you the permission to release anything your holding onto and instead of treating those five minutes as precious – you put time back on your side.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I’d do anything to have my mom back. But, what this practice has done for me is that it’s given me my mom back in more of a fun way. As she pointed out before she passed, no matter whether she was here or not, I would still hear her. Understanding that, has allowed me to laugh or even roll my eyes, knowing what she’d say or think. It has allowed me to more freely love her without as much pain. It has allowed me to finally free my writer’s block and be vulnerable again.

And that is what it can do for you.

If you’re holding on somewhere or wish you just had five minutes – let yourself have that conversation. Again and again. Don’t limit your time.  Give yourself permission to find joy and laughter or release any regret or anger that you might feel. The key is not to treat those five minutes like that’s all that’s left – but to remember there’s enough time to say all that needs to be said.


Are you ready to feel happier? Learn practices to overcome loss or grief? Please join me for my FREE Happy is a Verb Coaching call on October 24th. Choose from one of two call times. Click here to join now!