Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Friend Grief and Laughter

This post originally appeared last March, about one of my favorite TV series, The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Although something very tragic had happened, the resulting humor is something we can all identify with - for better or worse.
Laughing at funerals is generally frowned upon (Irish wakes notwithstanding).
People are expected to act a certain way: maybe not grief-stricken, but at least respectful of those who are and the person who has died.  You get a lot of dirty looks if you’re the only one laughing.
In recent years, there has been a movement to make wakes and funerals and memorial services more of a celebration of life.  Laughing – in the context of shared memories – has become appropriate. 
Considered by the Chicago Tribune to be the funniest TV comedy episode of all time “Chuckles Bites the Dust” on The Mary Tyler Moore Show concerned the death of Chuckles the Clown.  Dressed as Peter Peanut, he was trampled by a rogue elephant during a parade.  Mary’s coworkers immediately began to make jokes, and she was horrified by what she saw as nothing less than cruelty.
But at the funeral, she suddenly finds herself unable to stifle her laughter.  Now it’s everyone else who’s disgusted.  And in a complete reversal, as soon as the minister encourages her laughter – because Chuckles hated sadness - she breaks down in tears.


Have you ever been the one to laugh when no one else did?
Maybe your memories of your friend made you giggle.
Maybe something absurd – something your friend would have thought funny – happened during the wake or funeral.
Everyone grieves differently.
Sometimes they even laugh.
Don’t be afraid to laugh, even in the midst of your tears. You can probably hear your friend laughing right along with you.

1 comment:

kathleen said...

Viki, this is a great post on the many faces of grief- so individual, so unpredictable, so human. The vision of a loved one laughing along with you makes it alright. actually more than alright,downright essential. Laughter is the best medicine and Mary Tyler Moore the poster child for making it work.