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I saw an item on the news last week that claimed that Tuesday, January 24th was supposed to be the most depressing day of the year.

Last year the 24th was a Monday - JAN24th

I usually don’t believe everything that I read in the newspaper or see on the news but I must have been taken in by the “hype” because last week was “not good”.

I am currently reading a great little book of daily readings called Healing After Loss by Martha Hickman. It has often helped me through this journey of grief one day at a time.

I found the message for January 24th to be somewhat disturbing. The author mentioned some memories of laughter during grief that would have been upsetting to me if I had been involved. (I don’t mean “nervous” laughter here.)

In one case she recalled a relative telling a joke while their father lie dying nearby. I remember being upset just when Jeannie’s sisters would visit her and complain how hard their day had been at work, rather than try to comfort their dying sister - let alone tell jokes.

The author also wrote about the laughter they enjoyed when a child “imitated” a grieving relative’s grief and had a good “laugh” at what I would call disrespect. By laughing at the child I believe they rewarded such behaviour as “OK” thus increasing the likelihood of the child repeating such behaviour where it might not be appropriate.

I know that we are all different and some feel that laughter is the best medicine, but I guess I am just too old to see any humour in grief. I still have difficulty in chat rooms where fellow grievers are lol or rotflmao – I hope that someday in the not too distant future I will be able at least to smile and really mean it when I say “great” to the question

“How are you making out?”

I truly hope that all you kind folks that read this had a better week. I really do not enjoy “wallowing in my grief”, but sometimes I just can’t seem to climb out of this pit! :(:(

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I understand what you have written about laughter during the time that your Jeannie was ill and dying – but I have a different idea about the value of laughter. I experienced laughter all the time when my Jack was ill and dying. We found – both of us – that our ability to find some humor in all the events that were unfolding to be - as so many have phrased it – a medicine.

There was nothing at all - that either Jack or I could do to change what was happening to him – but time and again we would laugh with so many of our friends and Jack was the first one to find some humor in the dreadful circumstances that had taken over his body. He had a brain tumor – was gradually losing his left side. He was blind – which removes so much of how people with sight interact with our world. He had delusions – because of the tumor and because of the blindness. None of this was humorous – but we were still able to find times and reasons to laugh.

The fact that we were able to laugh now gives me some comfort. At least I can look back at that dreadful 10-month period and see some images of him smiling and laughing. Laughing did not save his life – but I do think it made the situation more bearable for him - and all those who came to visit him. It was a good thing.

Here is JUST ONE - of many examples - on how we were able to find smiles during Jacks Illness. It also reflects the wonderful sense of humor that My Jack possessed. Here it is:

Jack had been hospitalized 16 weeks over the course of the 10 months he was ill – on three separate hospital stays. During the course of the last hospital stay Jack was having trouble remembering how old he was. The brain tumor was affecting his ability to recall. I decided to give him a “clue” for those times I would try to “test” him and ask him how old he was. I told him when I ask you how old you are and you don’t remember – I will tell you Double Nickels – and you will then know that you are 55. He agreed and we did this for days. Then one day I was going through this same routine with Jack. He did not seem to recall his age – I provided the clue – Double Nickels – and he said 55. My Parents were visiting Jack at this time in the hospital and were sitting across the bed from Jack. As soon as we finished our routine (The Double Nickel thing) – my Dad asked Jack how old he was. Jack said very calmly – “Well – Am I on the grass or the concrete”? We all looked at him in bewilderment. I said - “What difference does it make?” Jack said - “If I am on the grass I’m 50 – and If I’m on the concrete I’m 55”. We all chuckled and then I said, - “Well what if you’re on the water?” – and Jack said - without hesitation – “How far am I from the shore?” I said in reply to that – “About a mile”. Jack then said – again without hesitation - “what direction am I going?” - And I replied “ South” and Jack replied - “Then I’m getting Younger”.

Jack had the most wonderful personality and sense of humor. His illness did not remove that from him. His humor – his ability to laugh was “Not ill”. I am so grateful that we were able to laugh and find some humor in the nightmare that we found ourselves in.

Humor is a medicine – so often overlooked. I would not trade the humor we were able to find during this period of our lives – it continues to heal me to this day and it allowed Jack to enjoy one of life’s greatest pleasures.

These are my feeling on laughter – in the face of serious illness.

John – Dusky is my handle on here

Love you Jack

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Reading your post made me think of the last thing that made me and my children smile 3 days before my husband died.

My husband was a firefighter most of his working life so my son in law, being the fire chief of Casa Grande wanted to give his father in law who he loved dearly a firemans funeral. On his death bed I leaned over and whispered in my Charlies ear "We are going to give you a firemans send off" He whispered back to me with all the strength left in him " I am no hero, God is going to be so (excuse the language) pissed off at me if you do that" We all had to smile because he never thought of himself as a hero, but we always did and we wanted to give him this last special gift and he made us humble that he felt he did not deserve it, even though he was always our hero.



7/1/38 -10/20/04

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I picked up a copy of Healing After Loss and have found it to be helpful. I read the entry for Jan 24 and I'm really sorry that you found it to be disturbing. My perspective is a little different. Maybe because I work in a hospital we see things differently. I find laughter to be somewhat of a stress reliever. Sometimes people, especially during a stressful situation, find things to laugh at that would seem disrespectful to others. It is in no way intended that way. It is a coping mechanism, a way to keep doing what we need to do to care fo others, without going completely bonkers.

That said, there were many times during Tom's illness that he would laugh about things that weren't normally funny and I would laugh right along with him. He also enjoyed when visitors would make him laugh. Sometimes you have to look for the good in the midst of the overwhelming bad.

No, there is no humor in grief. Not a day goes by that I don't wish I could have had "just a little more time". I cherish every moment we had, even the bad ones.

Did you read the message for today? She writes about desolation. "It is a world we do not want to enter, a world for which we have no hunger. We would turn from it if we could. Yet we find ourselves in it......The world of desolation is a world that calls many of us. There is no going around it."

Some days are just very, very bad. I hope you have a better week.

Tommy's Girl,

Kathy (Bebekat)

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My dearest Walt,

No there is no humor in losing the love of your life. I remember that evening so clearly in my mind and the intense pain that I felt, lilke the sharpest of daggers going through me all at once. I remember my world tumbling and falling and all sense of purpose lost along with it. The days that followed were a blur, an unreality that I did not want to live through. I do not recall smiling except when remembering funny things about George. George and I both have such wonderful senses of humor...he had to learn to laugh to survive life! And me, I got my sense of humor from my father, that was his greatest gift to me, one that me and my whole family use as a coping mechanism. I know a lot of people think our humor is sick and do not understand or agree with it, and yet it is what has gotten us through. My little sister had a baby born without a brain...she had the stem that controlled body function, breathing, etc., but not the rest, no cognitive abilities, no thinking, etc. I remember my little sister bought her a T-shirt that read "If I only had a brain". Now a lot of people would find that sick, but they went through so much and if they hadn't kept their humor, you would have had to have locked them away for they never would have made it. I love nothing more than sitting around with family and friends and hearing us all sharing stories about George...and he would love it. When I think of him, I think of him with a big smile on his face. He made me smile even on his death bed! The whole time we were married, I hounded him for receipts...I am the organized planner in the family, a Bookkeeper/Office Mgr. by trade, but he was not good with tracking things. We lost a lot of tax deductions because he didn't bring home his work-related expense receipts! Well he is laying there dying in the hospital and he very weakly whispered to me...I had to lean down to hear him say "There's a receipt on my wallet". That made me smile...Sure enough, a $14.00 receipt! It took me my whole marriage to train him and just when I get him trained right, he up and dies on me! You have to find something to smile about in that...and yet I agree, there are times that it is inappropriate, and we should be sensitive to people. We know our loved ones...if we feel it would offend, we should refrain.

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