Tragedy, Laughter and Living
Recently, a reader responded to my request for a "using humor in difficult times" story. It's a personal and family vignette that truly illustrates the healing power of humor. It also captures the irrepressible spirit of the comedic genius, Charlie Chaplin, and his take on the double-edged quality of humor and human nature: "The paradoxical thing about making comedy is that it is precisely the tragic which arouses the funny. We have to laugh due to our helplessness in the face of natural forces...and in order not to go crazy."
Julee (email@example.com) thank you for your poignant and uplifting story. Welcome to the Stress Doc's StressBusters Club. I'm proud to have you and your life affirming energy, especially in our darkest hours. On with the sadder yet enlightening tale, in Julee's words:
I have (a story) that happened to me when I was 21; I'm 39 now. My family has always used humor to deal with stress and difficulties in life. This particular case may seem warped to some, but to me, it was just what I needed...I had only been married six weeks when I was rushed into surgery with an ectopic pregnancy. After 1 1/2 hours of surgery, and losing the baby, I was taken back to my room where my family was waiting. As I came out of the anesthesia, I remember seeing my Dad standing over me. I knew what had happened and was already grieving. My Dad, knowing it was a tense situation and that I was terribly upset and in pain, leaned over and whispered, with a smile on his face, "And you told me you've never had sex!"
I will never forget the smile it brought to my face or the chuckle I let out and the chuckles from family members in the room. That little "warped" remark helped me deal with the stress. Why, I don't know. That little baby was gone forever, and it broke my heart to think I would never know he/she. Maybe it was the timing of the remark and it's absurdity...Whatever it was, it made me smile and laugh a bit in a time of grief. I had lost a baby; we weren't making fun of that by no means. It was just our way of saying: "I will survive this. I will grieve and mourn. And I will survive!"
This may not be what you are looking for but, to this day, I think of that little episode and always smile at the memory of the "humor" my Dad used to make me feel somewhat better...I have been married 16 1/2 years now and have a 15 year old daughter. I grieved and mourned. I remember and never forget what might have been. And with the help of my family and our humor, I survived.
Julee, all I can say is, "Amen!" And thank goodness for fathers and families with crazy senses of humor. They'll keep us sane yet! Thanks again for reminding us that not just the individual, but the whole family together, can Practice Safe Stress! (And there's even no taboo against it!)
Feedback Segment: How about sharing your thoughts on how you, friends or colleagues use humor in dealing with stress, conflict or moods, yours or others, in your personal life, at home or at work? HFTE will run the best stories and, of course, credit you. (And the real lagniappe, you become a member of the Stress Doc's StressBusters Club.) Also, email me to learn more about "The Stress Doc's" upcoming serious and humorous on-line support/chat group -- "The Frequent Sighers Club.
Mark Gorkin, "The Stress Doc," Licensed Clinical Social Worker, is a nationally recognized speaker, workshop leader and author on stress, reorganizational change, anger, team building, creativity and humor. The Stress Doc is a columnist for the popular cyber-newsletter, Humor From The Edge. Mark is also the "Online Psychohumorist" for the major AOL mental health resource network, Online Psych . His motto: Have Stress? Will Travel! Reach "The Doc" at (202) 232-8662, email: Stress Doc@aol.com