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

2023 - January - Gazette - Choices in the care of the deceased

Choices in the care of the deceased I received a call from the daughter of a 96-year-old woman who had died. The daughter was looking for someone to officiate at her mother’s funeral service,...

2023 - January - Town & Gown - Loss, Grief, Gratitude and Humor

Loss, Grief, Gratitude and Humor When I was invited to write a piece for the Pink Zone insert, I wondered what I could say to be helpful. I have never had breast cancer or been treated with c...

2022 - December - Gazette - Resolutions or Intensions

Resolutions or Intentions I’ve never been a person who is drawn to making New Year’s resolutions. Primarily because if I want to make a change in myself, I’ll make the change when I realize I want...

2022 - December - Gazette - 2nd Annual Luminaria Memorial Display

 2nd Annual Luminaria Memorial Display Last New Year’s Eve, I picked up my parents from their local retirement community and took them for a drive in search of a very special light show. As i...

2022 - November - Gazette - What Really Matters

What Really Matters “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” As we begin this holiday season, I invite all of us to contemplate these words from writer Annie Dillard. How do ...

2022 - November - CNN - Dogs know just when we need them most ...

We're grateful to Madeline Holcombe with CNN for including Koch Funeral Home and Monroe, our grief therapy dog, in her story about how dogs impact grief. Thank you, Madeline! Read more here. 

2022 - November - Town & Gown - Funerals Provide Support and Help Us Heal

Funerals Provide Support and Help Us Heal We shared stories about this veteran’s life, listened to his favorite music and said a prayer. After leaving the funeral home, we gathered at the gravesid...

2022 - October - Gazette - Healing Through the Holidays

  Healing Through the Holidays Growing up, my older sister had a poster of a sad clown in her bedroom with the words, “Share with me my sadness and I’ll share with you my joy.” That sentimen...

2022 - October - CDT - Active Life - Allowing Nature to Help Us Heal

Allowing Nature to Help Us Heal  “Instead of seeing natural things as merely objects to be used, we must allow nature to enchant us.” These words of writer and Franciscan priest Richard Rohr ...

2022 - September - Gazette - The Work of a Funeral Director

The Work of a Funeral Director I had the honor and privilege of traveling around Pennsylvania for two weeks this September making presentations to funeral directors at the Pennsylvania Funeral Dir...