Laughter as a Catharsis For Grief

Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards
  Soren Kierkegaard

Even when we are grieving, there are some things in life that can make us laugh. I’ve listened to clients who have a sense of guilt if they are having fun or laugh rather than cry. Both crying and laughing are a catharsis for our emotions all of which need to be expressed so that we heal.

It’s only normal to laugh when a funny situation arises or you hear a funny story, no guilt necessary. In fact, we don’t laugh enough. Babies laugh all the time because they find most of the world and us funny. The average 5 year old in the U.S. laughs 400 times per day. The average adult laughs 15 times.

I’m sure you’ve all heard that laughter is the best medicine and the story of Norman Cousins who has actually been looked at as the father of mind/body medicine with his 1981 best-selling book An Anatomy of An Illness. Why don’t physicians prescribe “Laughter T.I.D. (three times a day) for the next thirty days”. My clients and I laugh together either while practicing a new technique for healthy living or at the absurdities of life and around the experience of loss and grief. Laughter is universal and is a way to connect with people.

Yes, we need to process our grief but that doesn’t mean living grief every minute of the day. Look at laughing as yet another tool for healing. Laughter enhances your mood, decreases stress hormones, enhances immune activity, lowers bad cholesterol and systolic blood pressure, and raises good cholesterol (HDL). Laughing and crying both serve to rebalance the chemistry of stress, tension and pain. I work with my clients on being in the present moment and laughter can bring you there. You cannot think and laugh at the same time!

Zen Buddhists believe laughter cleanses the soul. Have you ever noticed how the Dalai Lama giggles after he speaks? A not often heard quote from an Indian Guru is “dreams are the excrement of the mind, feces is the excrement of the body and laughter is the excrement of the soul”.

Life is quite absurd so go and have a good laugh. Double click on the speaker below.

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Be well,



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© 2012 Audrey Pellicano. All Rights Reserved. Copying or reposting this content without written permission is strictly prohibited.
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