Numerous studies have proven it to be true – even studies associated with those in the throes of grief.
Many would question the validity of that: grief and laughter even used in the same thought seems to be an oxymoron to many – in fact maybe even to most.
Earl Grollman said it well, “On the face of it, grief and laughter are the opposite poles of human feelings. Yet they are inextricably bound. Laughter permits you to approach grief, reduce it to size, and manage loss effectively. Like a safety valve, humor offers a shift in perspective and energy that restores a sense of balance.”
The feelings of sorrow and sadness can be so intense, it takes enormous energy just to face the day – let alone to smile or laugh, but it is worth the energy expenditure in the long run, as laughter loosens muscles, enhances circulation, and triggers the body’s natural pain killers – and does so without bad side effects known to many drugs.
In our Life After Loss Grief Support Groups, we often laugh more than we cry – and we often laugh through our tears. Humor helps us to identify and express feelings, to vent anger and despair, to process guilt, liberate hidden emotions, and in doing so, promote healing.
You might ask, “How and where do I start? Everything feels so heavy.” A good start is to have someone in your life who is outrageously funny – who approaches their ups and downs and life in general with humor. They have a way of pulling us up from the depths just by innocent humorous comments. A book by a humorist like Lewis Grizzard or Erma Bombeck can force a laugh out of us, or a slap stick movie can also help.
“But if I smile or laugh, it seems as though I’m disrespecting my loved one – or minimizing the loss.” In truth, it really is the opposite – wouldn’t your loved one want you to be alive and to enjoy life? This doesn’t indicate loving any less, rather it honors the joy you shared in life.
Look for those moments of joy each day to counteract the pain of sorrow – the goal is balance. Let a smile be your umbrella on these rainy days of grief. Laughter really is the best medicine; allow yourself repeated doses, and in time it will help to heal you.
By Barb Kennedy
Wages and Sons, Aftercare Coordinator
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