2018 - July - CDT - Helping Hands - Humor to Heal

By: Jackie Hook
Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Humor to Heal

There is a scene in the movie Steel Magnolias where Sally Field’s character is leaving her daughter’s funeral and experiences several emotions in a few minutes. She is sad, angry, confused and then she starts to laugh. Many people who are grieving wonder how they will ever laugh again. I think this scene is a great example that just like other emotions, laughter can be one part of the grief journey, a healing part.

Laughter has been used in healing for centuries. The Ancient Greeks employed clowns in Hippocrates time. And today studies show that laughter: reduces physical and mental stress levels, improves moods, lowers anxiety, increases alertness, improves immune systems, reduces pain and lowers blood pressure – all things helpful for mourners. One study from the University of Berkeley followed recent widows and widowers  and even found that those who smiled and laughed when recalling times with a loved one had lower levels of depression and anxiety at six, 12 and 24 months after the death.

It is my experience that many people are able to laugh, even right after a death. When I sit with family members and hear stories of their loved ones’ lives, laughter is often part of the sharing. And then when I turn those stories into a personalized ceremony and officiate at the remembrance, memorial or funeral service, laughter is often heard there as well. At times, people feel guilty for their laughter thinking they should only be feeling pain and sorrow. I invite these people to look to children as their teachers. A child can move from sadness to laughter and then back to sadness from one moment to the next – they welcome it all, feel it and then move on.

When I facilitate support gatherings, I say tears and laughter are welcome. One such support gathering will be our next Monday’s Moments Complimentary Luncheon on Monday, August 6. Our theme will be “Humor to Help Heal” and we’ll discuss the importance of humor and ways to create what Nancy Weil of The Laugh Academy calls your own HPOA – humor plan of action. Another gathering will be our September’s luncheon with a theme of “Plan Ahead” and here’s something to make you laugh, this Monday’s Moments will be held on Tuesday, September 4. These luncheons are held from Noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Courtyard by Marriott, 1730 University Drive, State College. 

To RSVP, please email Jackie Hook or call her at 814-404-0546. If you’re grieving the loss of a loved one, I hope to see you at one of these gatherings and until then I hope you heed these words of Madeleine L’Engle, “A good laugh heals a lot of hurts.”

Jackie Hook, MA, is a spiritual director and celebrant.  She coordinates the Helping Grieving Hearts Heal program through Koch Funeral Home in State College.  For more information, please call 814-237-2712 or visit www.kochfuneralhome.com.

Leave a comment
Name*:
Email:
Comment*:
Please enter the numbers and letters you see in the image. Note that the case of the letters entered matters.

Comments

Please wait

Previous Posts

2020 - June - Gazette - #BePresentWithKoch

#BePresentWithKoch Presence is important in so many ways. I’ve heard countless stories of loved ones waiting for a particular someone to be present with them before they died. I’ve also heard stor...

2020 - June - CDT - Helping Hands - Because Love Can't Wait

Because LOVE Can't Wait When I ask people about the losses they’ve experienced during the pandemic, without fail they describe the pain of losing in-person connections. Just a few months ago, we t...

2020 - May - Gazette - H-O-P-E

H-O-P-E A few years ago I was introduced to a simple activity designed by Robin Chaddock to help you find your true purpose in life. The activity used two lists – one of verbs and one of nouns. Yo...

2020 - April - Gazette - Because Love Can't Wait

Because Love Can't Wait I don’t know about you, but my pandemic grief journey has at times, surprised me. In case you weren’t aware, we are all on your own grief journeys right now. Grief is the n...

2020 - Mar - CDT - Learning to Live - Learning to Live with Pandemic Losses by Moving

Learning to Live with Pandemic Losses by Moving One day last week, my husband and I were out on our morning walk through the neighborhood. The air was crisp and the sky a vivid, cloudless blue. Ea...

2020 - Mar - Gazette - Koch Funeral Home During the Pandemic

Koch Funeral Home During the Pandemic “Whatever the rules, we are here to serve you,” states Glenn Fleming, supervisor and funeral director at Koch Funeral Home. Koch’s funeral staff is committed ...

2020 - Mar - CDT - Active Life - A Walk with Grief

A Walk with Grief A couple years ago my family and I were in the airport getting ready to begin a trip to Florida. Since we arrived a bit early for our flight, we had some time to spare and I wand...

2020 - Feb - Gazette - Dogs as Companions

Dogs as Grief Companions I walked gingerly through the door from the garage to our house. My husband supported my arm as I moved slowly, hunched over, protecting my incisions. I was in an anesthes...

2020 - Jan - Gazette - Remembering with Love

Remembering with Love I heard Mom repeat, “Oh, Joe.” I was 12 years-old, it was Halloween night 1973, and Mom was talking on the phone to my Uncle Joe. Uncle Joe was married to my mom’s sister, my...

2020 - Jan - CDT - Helping Hands - A New Year

A New Year A new year can be an exciting time full of possibilities. It can also be a sad time when it means you’re saying goodbye to the last year in which a loved one lived.  At one grief ...