Thankfully our family has always turned to laughter as a way of making it through things that would otherwise bring us to tears. So it wasn’t but a couple days past when we got the news of Dom’s leaving we managed a giggle here and there as his friends shared some funny stories with us.
But it felt strange to have laughter bubbling up in my throat even as I couldn’t stop its escaping my mouth.
It wasn’t the free-floating, airy expression of joy and merriment it used to be. Instead it was a strangled, mishapen gurgling mixture of the joy I once knew and unspeakable pain I now knew.
It didn’t float airily into the atmosphere, it thudded heavy to the floor.
And then I felt like I was betraying my son.
How could I laugh just days after finding out he would never laugh again? How could I giggle over a silly story when my own story had drifted into tragic territory? Was there something dreadfully wrong with me? Was I somehow defective?
No. No. No.
There is nothing wrong with laughing-even in the darkest night of child loss.
Laughter is a gift.
When we laugh our hearts and bodies are receiving strength for the work grief requires.
Laughter has many proven benefits:
- decreases stress hormones
- increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease
- triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
- lowers blood pressure
- works your abdominal muscles
- improves cardiac health
Dominic had an amazing laugh–he was always cutting up, teasing friends and family and finding the funny in every situation. He loved to laugh.
One of the favorite stories his classmates told me was when he dressed as a redneck client for a mock trial case. They were petrified that when he walked into the “courtroom” he was going to ruin their strategy and chances of winning.
But he played the part to perfection and had everyone rolling in the aisles.
I am learning to embrace laughter not only for what it does for ME but for how it links my heart to his.
This Valley is a long, dark place-I’ll take any light that breaks through.
And laughter is one of the brightest.