Tears and laughter are not that different when you think about it. Both are a way of letting something out. Yesterday I sat with a new widow who had just been told that her mother has congestive heart failure. The doctor said that there is nothing they can do for her but to make her comfortable.
Both of my parents had congestive heart failure and the memories of those last days of their lives are still very fresh for me. It was easy for me to cry with my friend as I relived my own sadness knowing what may be ahead for her. We talked about how very hard it is for us as widows having to go through life’s hard things without our husbands here to share our grief and to take us in their arms and tell us that everything is going to be ok.
Yet, somehow in the midst of our tears, we were able to laugh some as well as my friend said, “We’re a mess, aren’t we.” Yes, we are both a mess right now. We can cry at the drop of a hat and then we can find something funny to laugh about. Our emotions run from a very low place and then can go to a high place for a few moments. There doesn’t seem to be too much middle ground for us in our grief journeys. Someone on the outside looking in would probably think we were both crazy and I can tell you that at times it certainly does feel that way to us.
One person wrote that “Laughter is a way of lifting that heavy burden of loss and all facets of grief if only for a few minutes. It is a wonderful respite.” The healing benefits encompass body, mind, and spirit and help to ease the pain.
“Laughter is a holistic approach to grief. Don’t avoid it; embrace it when it happens. It is nourishment for the soul. An inner chuckle, a brief amusement, a whimsical experience, or even a hearty guffaw may help enable you to get through those days that otherwise may seem most dark and dreary.” Larry J. Michael, Ph.D
The book of Proverbs says, “Laughter does good like a medicine.” It is a natural antidote.
IT’S OKAY TO GRIEVE: The death of a loved one is a reluctant and drastic amputation without any anesthesia. The pain cannot be described and no scale can measure the loss. We despise the truth that the death cannot be reversed and that somehow our dear one returned. Such hurt! It’s okay to grieve.
IT’S OKAY TO CRY: Tears release the flood of sorrow of missing and of love. Tears relieve the brute force of hurting, enabling us to “level off” and continue our cruise along the stream of life. It’s okay to cry.
IT’S OKAY TO HEAL: We do not need to “prove” we loved him or her. As the months (or years) pass, we are slowly able to move around with less outward grieving each day. We need not feel “guilty”, for this is not an indication that we love less. It means that, although we don’t like it, we are learning to accept death. It’s a healthy sign of healing. It’s okay to heal.
IT’S OKAY TO LAUGH: Laughter is not a sign of “less” grief. Laughter is not a sign of “less” love. It’s a sign that many of our thoughts and memories are happy ones. It’s a sign that we know our memories are happy ones. It’s a sign that we know our dear one would have us laugh again. It’s okay to laugh.