Using Humor to Deal with Tragedy. – A Humor Health Tip
The healing power of humor: Using humor to help you overcome tragedy, trauma and loss.
“Experience is not what happens to you; it is what you do with what happens to you.” – Aldous Huxley
“Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh.”- George Bernard Shaw
Tragedy, it seems, is as inescapable as taxes. At some point in our lives we will face the death of a loved one, or the loss of a job or material possession, or the heartache of separation. Pain and grief must be lived through rather than avoided. It is the most important step in the recovery processes, not to mention that it is proof that you are alive. However, whether it be by natural forces, accidental occurrences, or conscious decisions, we must somehow proceed through these events in order to live. Also, for third parties who see these tragic events, being sympathetic may move a person to feel angry or sad. Yet here too, we must somehow proceed through our feelings and use them as motivations for compassionate acts.Humor can be a very helpful, if not necessary tool for overcoming our sense of helplessness and pain. Appropriate uses of humor can help us feel that life is worth living fully again, can help us through the recovery process, and can assist us in helping others.
1. Humor To Help Us Regain The Joy of Living
At my grandmother’s funeral I gave a eulogy and shared as many humorous stories about her life as I could. Part of coping with death is remembering life. Death and loss happen in an instant. However, a life is lived for a lifetime. Seems obvious, yet after the loss of a loved one, or a home, or a job, we often find our minds focused on a brief event rather than the many years of happiness and laughter that preceded it. In order to recover from loss, we must first regain the joy of living by allowing laughter back into our lives. It can be the laughter associated with the memories of your house before it was burned down, or it can be the humor of completely unrelated events. Either way, humor and laughter give us joy and with joy we have energy for recovery and that can lead to motivation for change.
2. Humor To Help Us In Recovery
The trauma of loss or unexpected events can leave us in a state of shock. Our mind can also find itself obsessed with “what-ifs”. These are regrets that cause us to question what we could have done differently and worries that cause us to question the outlook of the future. Both shock and obsessive thoughts put us in a form or paralysis. They trap us in a state of non-action. Humor from a friend or from ourselves can help break us free of our numbness or our incessant thoughts. Humor can be used to wake us up to reality. If we can see humor in our predicament or if we can find humor inspite of our predicament, we are able to detach ourselves from our shock or from our rambling mind to see a broader, non-personal view of the situation. It is only here where we can gain freedom to act positively toward recovery.
3. Humor to Assist Others
We can help others simply by sharing our sense of humor with them. In essence, all we are really alluding to is the sharing of a broader perspective in order to help in the recovery process as mentioned above. Thankfully, sharing this is simple. Laughter is contagious and if we are able to achieve a state of mind where we are able to enjoy life again, laughter can spread this joy quickly and efficiently and help communal recovery. However, we must be careful that our type of humor is appropriate for the circumstances and that our humor is considerate of the other persons position and their state of mind.
Joke excerpts from The Laughter Prescription:
“How many of you would like to go to heaven?” the minister asked his congregation. All but one man raised their hands. “You mean to tell me when you die, you don’t want to go to heaven?”
“Oh, sure, but I thought you were getting a gang together right now.”
Aunt Emma passed away
Uncle Harry went to the park
The patient has expired
My brother met his demise
Grandpa has gone to his reward
Grandma is with the angels
Aunt Emma died
Uncle Harry died
The patient died
My brother died
Grandma either died or was traded
The Laughter Prescription- Dr. Laurence J. Peter and Bill Dana