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 from Ecclesiastes 3. A few of the words that are comforting for them and ring very true for me are: “For everything there is a season… a time to be born, and a time to die… a time to weep, and a time to laugh.”
Just as each year has seasons, so do our lives. For each of us there is a time to be born and a time to die. We also have times to weep and times to laugh. In most services I facilitate, both of these occur. Weeping over a physical presence that is no longer here and laughing with stories about happy and funny memories. Both are healing. At services and support gatherings I sometimes tell the participants that laughter and tears are welcome.
At these gatherings around death, tears are accepted – sadly one of the few spaces in our culture where that is the case. But laughter isn’t always accepted or expected, even by the people laughing themselves. Unfortunately, for many guilt rears its head along with grief. Grievers feel guilty if they feel happiness and joy. The message I want people to hear is you can still honor your loved one by laughing – and wouldn’t they want that for you? Laughter is very human, healing and relieving.
Research on the role of humor has found that it provides many physical, emotional and social benefits. Humor reduces pain, stress, depression and anxiety, while it increases the immune system, relaxation, feelings of well-being, and bonding among friends and family. And research about humor and grief shows that even if mourners don’t value laughter and other positive emotions, experiencing them leads to less grief. If you’d like, you can seek humor – share funny stories, watch comedic shows and movies and check out laughter yoga! Trust your unique journey and allow weeping and laughter when they visit.
Even with those benefits, for some people laughter is hard to come by after a death and that is okay too. Depending on the circumstances, relationship, age, etc., humor is not an accessible emotion. One group for which laughter may be distant are parents who lose pregnancies and young infants. The memories for this group might not even include holding the baby in their arms, and all of the dreams they had for that child are lost.
However, for those who have experienced pregnancy and early infant loss there is a local group working to help comfort these parents and their families. Footprints in the Field is a community memorial garden dedicated to those pregnancy and early infant losses. With the generosity of Calvary Baptist Church, Cathy Holsing and her family brought community members together to raise money to create the remembrance garden on the beautiful grounds of Harvest Fields. This garden is a place to remember, reflect, mourn and heal.
Phase One of fundraising brought the gorgeous gazebo that frames the peaceful space, and Phase Two – going on now – will provide landscaping around the gazebo and 15 river rocks engraved with the names of the lost babies. If you would like to join Koch Funeral Home and contribute to this important effort, please visit their gofundme.com page.
And if you’d like to participate in our educational and support programs, you’re invited to:
- Monday’s Moments Virtual Gathering for Those Who Have Lost a Loved One on Monday, August 2 from 12:00 to 1:30 p.m. – This is an educational and support gathering where we come together, learn a little about the grief journey, support one another and see that we are not alone.
- Virtual Death Café on Monday, August 16 from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. – This is a time to talk about death in order to live fully now. We have no themes or agendas and discuss topics generated by the group. The Death Café is not a grief support or counseling session.
For more information, please visit the Bereavement Gatherings and Events page on the Koch Funeral Home website. To reserve your spot and receive the invitation links, email Jackie@JackieHook.com, call 814-237-2712 or visit the Koch Funeral Home Facebook page @kochFH.
Until we meet again, we hope you’re finding time for weeping and laughing in the current season of your life.
Jackie Naginey Hook, MA, is a spiritual director, celebrant and end-of-life doula. 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.