Good mood, foul mood, huge accomplishment achieved, or tragedy struck – laughter plays an important role in every human emotion and condition…and is the ultimate key to unlock empathy and compassion for another.
It’s amazing how many friends recently have had heart attacks – I think right now I could personally introduce you to half of the patients in the cardiac wing of one of our local hospitals. Saturday night, I had the pleasure of hanging out with friends who’ve faced the most unspeakable tragedies, one after the other – over the past two and a half months.
Like everyone else – my initial instinct is to mirror their grief…demonstrate that I share their pain, convey compassion with phrases like “we’re thinking about you,” “you’re in our prayers” – showing my tears.
That’s good – I can tell you from experience, it’s always nice to KNOW when those close to you are by your side…to offer their shoulder and help where needed. It’s valuable – but the hurt remains. When my mother was dying – the world was dark, all hearts were heavy – the support from friends and family was endless. The moments I valued most, though…were those times I had a chance to laugh – whether it was some hilarious memory, or even better – something completely disconnected from our morbid situation.
The pain of losing someone will always be there – and that pain can’t be any louder than when its happening, and right after she’s gone. In that moment, when I had a chance to talk to someone who just had a funny story from their life – completely disconnected from what I was emotionally enduring – it was a short break I desperately needed. To disconnect from the hurt, even for just a few minutes – feel the heal of laughter – subconsciously coming to grips with the FACT that life continues; and always will in a loved-one’s absence, and in your own absence.
Switching gears – As that person…the friend…never fear those moments of levity as a demonstration of your empathy and compassion. You may never know the true depth of your impact; but speaking from my own personal experience, that laughter could very well be the cornerstone of a new bridge that’ll carry your hurting friends and family away from pain and back to life.
And after this weekend – I can tell you…sometimes all it takes is the distraction of watching two grown men get-down to “It’s Raining Men” on the Wii console; where Naybor Tim, by the way – beat me by double my score this time. I’m glad everyone else is laughing…’cause the hurt I now feel is REAL. Sure, it may just be my pride – but it is a punishing pain.