Using Humor as a Tool in our Grieving Toolbox

Those who attend our groups are familiar with The WARM Place Traditions that are posted in each of the group rooms and frequently reviewed at the beginning of each session. Traditions are an important and valued part of what we do here.

One of our traditions that is “It’s okay to be happy and laugh.” It may seem impossible to think about laughing or humor in the early stages of our grief journey. Can humor and laughter play a role in our healing process? Is it really okay to laugh and be happy? Is laughter really “the best medicine” and “good for the soul” as the old maxims tell us.

Scientists and grief therapists say “yes.” According to research, laughter has been shown to ease physical pain, strengthen immune function, decrease stress, increase relaxation, and lower feelings of depression and anxiety. It can also help us put things in perspective, boost our morale, increase bonding with family and friends and even help increase our sense of control when our world has been turned upside down.

The goal is not to *only* feel happy and full of laughter every day. Life just does not work that way. Grief is multi-dimensional, and fluid and many emotions will come and go through the days, weeks, months, and years after a death. As another of our traditions reminds us, ALL feelings are to be respected. Sadness and crying, anger, exhaustion and numbness are all normal parts of the grieving and healing process, too. However, there is no need to feel guilty or assume that because we find something funny and laugh about it means we must be “over” our grief. The truth is no one ever “gets over” grief. But we can find ways to help us get through it – including seeking out moments that bring a smile or laughter to our days. Here are just a few ideas to help:

  • Watching a favorite sit-com or funny movie on Netflix
  • Going to a local comedy club
  • Sharing funny memories of your loved one with family or friends
  • Watching funny animal videos on YouTube
  • Trying Laughter Yoga (yes, it is really a thing!)
  • Inviting a funny friend over for dinner
  • Keeping a humorous book or “Joke of the Day” calendar on your desk



Kelle White, LCSW, APHSW-C

Kelle White, LCSW, APHSW-C

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