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

2021 October - Gazette - Have the Talk of Lifetime

Have the Talk of a Lifetime It was our usual Monday morning walk through the neighborhood about one month ago. My husband, John, and I were a little over one mile in and walking up a hill when he ...

2021 - October - CDT - Active Life

Community I’ve been thinking about the beauty of “community” lately. In my work, I have the privilege of seeing it time and time again. We invite people to gather together around a specific event,...

2021 - September - Gazette - A Place to Take Your Grief

A Place to Take Your Grief When my husband and I were living through the years of losing our first six pregnancies, angels became significant to me. Angels symbolized the lives that began in me an...

2021 - August - Gazette - Courage

Courage While driving through the western U.S. on a recent trip, I was struck by several acts of courage I saw during my travels. Park rangers at the Grand Canyon who walked out on the sheer ledge...

2021 - August - CDT - Helping Hands

I’ll always remember where I was. Like many other Tuesday mornings, I was following along with my Rodney Yee morning yoga DVD while our infant son lay next to me. When I finished, the TV was on NBC...

2021 - July - Gazette - Life with Tears & Laughter

Life with Tears & Laughter When people from a Christian tradition provide me with the honor of officiating their loved one’s funeral services, a common scripture reading they request comes fro...

2021 - June - Gazette - Intimacy with Disappearance

Intimacy with Disappearance In his meditation on vulnerability, poet and author David Whyte wrote: “…The only choice we have as we mature is how we inhabit our vulnerability, how we become larger...

2021 - May - Gazette - Breathe in Moments

Breathe in Moments One by one each of us entered the glass-enclosed circular chapel in the mountains of North Carolina. We removed our shoes and quietly sat down in a circle in the center of the r...

2021 - April - Gazette - Tending Your Inner Garden

Tending Your Inner Garden Wow, each spring I’m surprised. I forget how beautiful things are as nature comes back to life and I’m filled with wonder again and again. The vibrant colors of flowering...

2021 - April - CDT - Helping Hands

After I officiated at a relative’s memorial service a few years ago, an out-of-town family member shared with me about his wishes concerning his own death. He said he wanted to be cremated without ...