Big Top Emotions

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As I have the privilege of growing older, I gather more loss. Grief is difficult to talk about and something many people shy away from, but it truly is a fact of life. Learning how to cope with death is something we have to do. We have no choice. Like taxes, death will not be denied.

Laughing Seems Wrong.

I’ve found that in talking about death, laughter helps to relieve the pressure of the pain. At first, I wondered if that was somehow disrespectful to laugh. But laughter comes in different types. This is the laughter of loss and pain. It’s hard to hold both laughter and crying in one place. They take turns to sooth me.

Humor buffers us from the negative effects of stress. It helps with pain and mental anguish and can make a serious situation less taxing as well as less threatening.*

Marilyn A. Mendoza Ph.D.

Laughter Is Healing

There are studies to back up my instincts about laughter. According to Psychology Today, “Many successful bereavement groups incorporate laughter where members are encouraged to share humorous experiences associated with their loved one.”* The laughter actually helps to ward off anxiety and depression.

The Loopiness Of Grief

I’ve also found after other people close to me have died, that grief is not at all linear and tends to be very sneaky in when it attacks. For weeks after someone dies, it feels like grief is all encompassing and part of every day. But after a few months when I think it may be getting a little weaker, grief can come back unexpectedly without any obvious trigger. Suddenly, the wave crashes over me and I’m left wondering where and why and WTF! It makes me angry because I think that I’m doing ok and managing just fine. But that’s just how grief works.

Grief is a series of loops. You can circle back to where you were some time ago.”

Susan Glaser, bereavement counsellor**

An Emotional Circus

With the loops and the laughter and the pain, grief is starting to feel like a three ring circus that I didn’t buy a ticket for but am forced to be a part of. Luckily, there are others in the audience participating in the same situation and talking with them is comforting for all of us. However, the people who aren’t in our circus, but have been to a circus before, are the best folks to lean on. When I take a moment to step outside the circus tent to look for them, I find there’s a lot of them. Grief is not unique.




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