Laughing at Death

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Can there be laughter? Have I written so much on grief I can’t share the funny times?

I remember the pilot program for Storybooks for Healing and naively thinking that meeting people in grief would be all tears and somber. But as we got to know each other and began the sharing of grief, talking about the personalities of the loved ones and recalling the stories of the relationships, laughter arrived naturally.

There has been laughter in this household and I don’t want to overlook it. From Life Review and a room full of siblings there erupts teasing, stories and competition sure to bring laughter. As discoveries are made and people feel they can tell those stories of growing up not revealed before, smiles, laughter and surprise jump out at us. As individuals meet each other in a new light of being together here and now, there is pride, understanding and warmth. This is the joyous part of reflecting together at the beginning of the end of a long life of which we all revolve.

Along my education and work path in psychology and child development I learned about research stating (who knows where it came from now!) that it takes seven positive reinforcements to overcome the single negative statement children hear. Does it take seven bouts of laughter to overcome the single sad feeling?

I wonder.

1 reply
  1. Janet Ott
    Janet Ott says:

    I don’t know if it TAKES 7 bouts of laughter, but I know that bouts of laughter will certainly help. I know for myself, that when my sense of humor leaves, things are really bleak. And laughing can really help. And the most silly things can set it off. In class the other day, we were going over a test, and we were talking, of all things, poop, as only 7th graders can, and someone said something and one of the others started giggling, which got three more going, which made one of the little girls snort, at which point we all laughed, and every time she snorted, we laughed again, which kept round-robining for at least five minutes. In the middle, one of the boys, “Can I go pee?” which only made everyone laugh even harder. By the end, we were all doubled over, tears in our eyes. That kind of endorphin-raising laughter is wonderful. And people who can laugh in face of what you’re going through are the ones who make it out the other end with grace. One of my favorite lines in all of moviedom “Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion” said by one of women in Steel Magnolias after Julia Roberts character dies. It’s one of my favorite emotions too. Like that famous scene in Mary Tyler Moore laughs at the funeral when the clown dies. When Danny Thomas died, Marlo Thomas said everyone laughed telling stories about Danny and everyone thought it entirely appropriate.
    Dave has a great heart, as do you. May they sustain both during this time.


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