Laughter and his Last Days

Most of us at some point in our lives have laughed so hard we’ve begun to cry. Experts have acknowledged there’s a connection there. A sense of relief from stress and anxiety can come from both. But is there ever a time when laughter might be beneficial at times of extreme sadness? I recall laughing not long after my father’s death as I shared a funny moment about him with my siblings.

But what about such a place as a hospice? I asked my wife who volunteers at a nearby hospice facility. “It all depends on the patients and their families,” she said. She agrees with information cited in an article I recently read in the Minneapolis StarTribune (March 7, 2017) by Allie Shah. Those patients that have accepted their situation and are coping with their death prognosis can often be welcoming of humor. Shah’s article focuses on 66-year-old Roy Cato, dyeing from cancer.

Each week he is visited by a professional from a local hospice care facility. After the routine blood pressure check and response to medical questions, the two try to revert to humor. As you can imagine, when it comes to enemas, there’s plenty of opportunity for jokes. But nothing is planned; humor tends to come up more on the spur of the moment. Both men recognize the value of humor and look forward to their time together. Cato calls it “a special time.” Many family members and friends also come calling, and Cato is most appreciative. He says there is more laughter than tears now.

Many thanks to those who can see the value of humor and who, Living Love Large, can skillfully negotiate the difficult moments of the last days of a person’s life, replacing tears of sadness with laughter.

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