Laughter and humor during grief

Welcome Cama-i! photo by Greg Lincoln

by Greg Lincoln

In our Yup’ik culture and everywhere else throughout the world, people love to laugh. Sometimes when we laugh, we laugh so hard that it makes our stomach hurt. Have you ever laughed that hard before? It is your stomach muscles getting tired that you feel.

Honestly I can’t remember the last time I did that so I am due.

The Reader’s Digest magazine publishes a section entitled Laughter, the Best Medicine. There is even a show dedicated to making you laugh, America’s Funniest Videos, which are home videos of the hilarious nature.

When a person is fully engulfed in grieving, be it from a recent loss or from the past, they are still capable of experiencing laughter. There is a time and place for everything, and so there is a time and place to have laughter even in the midst of grief.

And humor. Even humor has its place and time during grieving. Grief experts have noted that humor is considered a mature defense mechanism in response to grief. It goes alongside other mature defense mechanisms which include patience and tolerance, even forgiveness and mindfulness.

Defense mechanisms are things that you do when you are faced with anxiety and pain.

Laughter has many benefits. It connects you in a positive way with the people you are laughing with. During any social connection, there can be laughter. When we are around our friends and loved ones, don’t we always enjoy telling them stories about the funny things that happened? We laugh and laugh, strengthening our bonds of friendship. The stronger the bonds of friendship, the more it can help us withstand tragedy or trauma.

We are often asked about your grieving and how it is going, how we feel, and how we are doing. We always say that we are okay, but that is only on the outward surface. You do understand this, we know. You have been with us every day since the beginning of this endless grief journey.

O friends, we cry in solitude so that we can smile when we go out. We cry when we are alone, so that we can laugh and enjoy the time we get to spend with you.

Thank you for always caring and always asking how we are doing. It shows that you care about our wellbeing and emotional state. Even just a couple of days ago when you saw us you asked how we are. We will never forget what you’ve done for us. And even if the years pass on by and old age affects our minds and our time has come, these words in these pages will endure throughout the eons of time and serve as testimony to your great love and devotion to us, your fellow man. Thank you so much for this great gift you have given us.

Kelly laughs every day and it is music to my heart. What makes her laugh the most is our dogs. She says it is their expressions. Whatever it is that those dogs are doing is working, it brings her happiness and when she is happy, so am I.