Laughter – (One of) Life's Best Medicines

I remember in the immediate days after Emily died a little over fours years ago now. Whenever I had a “good” feeling, or wanted to laugh I would stop. Should I be feeling or even thinking happy thoughts? Guilt. I should be sad and grieving. My baby just died. As I talked more with other bereaved mothers, we shared the same sentiment. 

As time went on, it became a little easier. But really I was not totally comfortable with it. And if someone mentioned seeing me smile or laugh, I would almost become defensive. I wanted to let them know that, “Yes, I am smiling. But I am also crying.” It becomes this sort of weird dance you play in your head and with others. It’s almost like you are trying to communicate, “I am better, but not all the way better.” When you really think about it though, will you ever be all the way better? Probably not. There will always be a piece missing. 

There are moments where I still am in shock, “Did we really lose two babies?” And other times where I have just accepted it all. And do not feel this need to tell others that we are a family of six – that we have two babies in heaven. I feel now that we are a family of four here, and a family of six up there. I do not pressure the boys to tell others that they have a  sister and another brother. I leave it up to them for the most part. But there are times now, as they are getting older being in school that they are asked to write about “how many siblings they have”. And I do not want them to be questioned too much by their peers, or even sad to say, have mean things said to them. Let’s face it, kids can be mean. And as a mother (or father), you want to protect them as much as possible. So, I would say for the most part now, the boys just tell their close friends about Emily and Michael. And I will say, I have become much the same. 

With my close friends though, I can talk about it all. Emily and Michael. How it was then. How it is now. And friends that have gone through loss too, can talk about it with me. And we do. We also have learned to laugh through those tears. Or else frankly, it can be too much. You have to learn to laugh. To breathe. To have fun again. It won’t come easy, that’s for sure. But it will arrive at some point. And while you are getting there, surround yourself by others that help you get there. 

My one friend is such a blessing to me. I met her about two years ago. And she is pretty much an open book like me. The one day we were up at the playground with our kids, and I had just met her. She told me that she had a miscarriage. She said it so casually in the story that she was telling me, that I almost acted like no big deal too. But then I said, “Did you say that you had a miscarriage? I’m so sorry.” And it was like, she was relieved and happy to hear someone acknowledge her pain. 

I am getting a little off-track with my writing here (anyone that knows me well, knows that I do this all of the time in person). But this is different, right? So back to laughter. It is good. It is refreshing to laugh. And to be with others that “get” your pain, and maybe have experienced that same pain, and laugh with you. Some of my friends have been through this, and very unfathomable circumstances as well, and have such an unbelievable sense of humor. Like, they make my stomach hurt from laughing so hard. My friend I just mentioned above does this for me. That is probably why I mentioned her, and thought about her with the topic of laughter. It is possible to laugh. Smile. Live. And take it all in again. It will be the same sound coming out of your mouth, but the way you see things and life will be different when you laugh. Oddly, it’s almost like a greater appreciation for laughter. To actually be able to be happy again, and to feel a little lighter. 

And again, it won’t come easy. It will take time to get there. There was a time when I couldn’t go out at night with my girlfriends. Because as it got late, and if I had more than a beer, I would start to think about Emily and Michael and get sad. And cry. So I realized, I can’t do this. Just a reminder, alcohol is a depressant. So, keep that in mind too. Stay in-tuned to how you feel, and try not to “dismiss” those sad feelings. You can’t rush grieving. I had to pull myself away from situations for a while that I knew would not help me. Going to parties, staying up late, being around babies. Instead, I went to bed early. I did not drink much alcohol really at all. I declined the invites to baby showers. And I exercised and meditated. More on those next time. 

Be good to yourself. Take your time with grieving. It is a long (and not easy) road. Recently, my husband and I celebrated 12 years of knowing each other. We went downtown (where we met), and went and saw The Lumineers. It’s one of those bands that have special meaning to us as we listened to them a lot when Emily died. In one of their songs, “Stubborn Love”, the verse says, “It’s better to feel pain, than nothing at all.” I was analyzing and contemplating that in my head on our way to the concert. Is it? Such a heavy and real statement. I would have to agree with it though. To go through life not “feeling” would be a very fake life. Living on the surface. And so just as with pain and sadness and feeling those, I encourage you to feel the other side of the spectrum – laughter and happiness. Spend time with those that make your heart feel happy. Rent a movie that makes you laugh. If you have children here, be funny with them. Help them learn to have a good sense of humor. Even doing these things in little steps. Eventually, they will get bigger and more. And you won’t have feelings of guilt when doing or feeling them. Laughter. :) And to end this blog today, I will leave you with this quote that I like and agree with: “Be with someone who can make you laugh when you don’t even feel like smiling.”