While grief and laughter are not typically two processes that are automatically paired together, research has showed us repeatedly the numerous benefits of laughter, humor and happiness on our ability to cope with difficult situations. In this blog I will be writing about the relationship between laughter and grief.
292 recently widowed men and women age 50 and over participated in a research study carried out by Lund, Utz, Caserta and de Vries (2008). The researchers studied the participants’ views about the importance of having positive emotions in their day to day lives, and how these positive emotions helped them grieve for the loss of their loved one and adjust. The researchers found that through experiences of humor, laughter and happiness, the research participants felt that they adjusted better to their bereavement. This meant that the participants reported having experienced lower feelings of grief and depression when they allowed themselves to laugh and express their sense of humor. The researchers also found that through laughter, people could distance themselves momentarily from feelings of sadness that is experienced during the process of grief, thus providing them with period of relief.
Through this study, the researchers also concluded that when people are able to experience humor, laughter and happiness, more opportunities for pleasant interactions with others are created. This means that if I am open to laugh with others, then others are more likely to express their sense of humors and the actions of others are more likely to make me happy. On the other hand, if I am not open to humor and lightness, my interactions with others will more likely be continuously heavy making it difficult to distance myself momentarily from the feelings of grief. This finding is very important, especially when taking into consideration the feelings of loneliness and isolation that may be experienced when grieving the loss of a loved one. Humor can help people connect, thus reducing the feelings of loneliness.
As I wrote in my introduction to this blog, grief and laughter are not typically two processes that are paired together. Having said this, laughter and a sense of humor are tools that can often provide us with moments that add meaning and happiness to our life, and that help us feel connected to others, three important components that are very supportive when dealing with the loss of a loved one.
Rebecca Cassar is a Family Therapist practicing the Systemic Approach. She specializes in offering therapy to families, couples and individuals who are experiencing distress in their relationships. She can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 79291817.