Ten years ago, I was flicking through an autobiography in a bookshop when I came across the words ‘if I could just have Mom back for five minutes…’ I immediately slammed the book shut. Those words hit a nerve – a nerve that had come to define my life. Hidden grief. Ever since my mum had passed away 14 years earlier, I had thought the same words over and over:
‘If I could just have Mum back for five minutes, it would last me twenty years!’
If she could just walk through a door so that I could hug her, speak to her, touch her beautiful hands and hair I remember so well. Hear her voice. So I could ask her so many questions I have. I know she’s gone and not coming back. But all I need is five minutes. Just five minutes.
But I was in public and not prepared for tears or any show of grief (I had learned to ‘control’ it most of the time). But behind the safety of my closed front door, I felt such massive relief that someone had shared the same desperate wish as me. And I felt just that little bit less alone in a life that would otherwise outwardly appear happy.
It was one of many experiences I had of the words of strangers helping me to feel less lonely in my grief. I had realized long ago that the people closest to me weren’t the best people to help me heal or even grieve. They were dealing with their own feelings, or didn’t even know Mum or me when I lost her.
Mum has stayed in my life every single day since she left in one way or another, and I work hard at keeping her in it all these years on, especially now that I have two young daughters. But I don’t remember Mum’s voice. That fact kills me yet I could probably say it to your face and not flinch, such are the coping mechanisms we build to keep our grief intact.
Grief can hit you in unexpected ways, and at unwanted times. It can be isolating, terrifying, exhausting, confusing, and hard to fit into your life so that you can live through your loss. Grief grows with you and within you, sometimes settling, sometimes rearing its painful head. And somehow we rebuild our lives without our lost loved one alongside us, but instead in our hearts and our minds.
And so I’m finally fulfilling my dream of creating a place, a website in conjunction with this blog, called Just Five Minutes. The purpose of Just Five Minutes is twofold. First and foremost, it’s a place to honor your loved one who has passed away – and bring them back into today. Not just in a photo or memory. To dream the impossible and imagine what you would say and do if you could have them back for five minutes today. Just five minutes. There is just one question:
‘What would you do if … came back to you for just five minutes? Imagine a door in front of you opens, they walk through it, and then five minutes later they have to go back through the door and disappear forever.’
You’re not talking about them, you’re talking directly to them. This is your chance to say and do what you really want to, for just five minutes.
So often those we’ve lost are barely spoken about, sometimes because it’s too painful, the time doesn’t feel right, or even when you want to family or friends are too worried it will upset you. Yet so many of us hold the dream of having them back, to recapture that connection that had such an impact on our lives, to share, to get answers, to update, to say things that were left unsaid. Every situation and relationship is different, but relating to the experience and words of strangers can provide both comfort and insight.
And so secondly, by sharing your experience and posting your JFM you can hopefully help others who are working through their own grieving process, and maybe feel alone doing so. The words of strangers can be powerful and maybe you prefer to just read other people’s words – it’s up to you.
JFM will be a place you can come to in your own time, in your own space, and be an outlet that can hopefully help in some way with your own grieving process. It will be an entirely non-judgmental platform, whatever your spiritual or religious beliefs are. It’s a unique experience to bring someone back whether you believe we go on when we die or that it is the end.
I would love to hear your thoughts on the concept and to know if you would like to contribute your Just Five Minutes as this exciting journey starts, so please contact me here.
Why has this project taken me ten years? Well, because I got married and had two amazing daughters in between, mostly! And partly because I was worried I may feel depressed talking about grief, death etc. by deliberately inviting it into my life. But my intent for the website is to uplift and hopefully provide some relief from grief.
I want Just Five Minutes to be a place you can come to alone but not feel alone. Because you aren’t alone. Dare to dream the impossible and hopefully it will help keep you going for the next 20 years!