Laughing at the absurd
photo courtesy: Maggie Knaus
I recently ran into an old acquaintance who learned of the return of my husband's cancer.
It took them by surprise that while I was sharing his symptoms, the 10 days of radiation that followed and aggressive intravenous infusion that he was now taking bi-weekly that I laughed about it.
It wasn't the kind that I would let out at a comedy club or while watching Seinfeld, nor was it a nervous one, but one that takes over when I'm hearing or talking about something totally absurd.
Their reply to my reaction was, "Well, it seems like you're doing alright."
I consider my sense of humour a part of my coping skills and something that gets me through many tough situations.
According to an article I read in Mental Floss, counsellor Kelley Hopkins-Alvarez says, “Sometimes people laugh when something is sad because they are trying to deflect going deeper into their emotions."
I don't consider my laughter as a means to protect myself.
Living with someone who is battling a terminal disease is all-consuming and even my emotions need a rest from it.
So when I'm speaking with someone who wants to know more about how I'm coping, the tell-tale signs of glioblastoma, or if they should avoid using a cell phone in fear of developing a brain tumour, I will sometimes let out a giggle.
Why? Because I've been talking about it everyday for over 3 years and sometimes my laughter helps to break the monotony of how painful this experience really is.
At my 50th birthday party, I was getting to know a friend of a friend. In between dancing and sips of champagne, she decided to sidle up to me to say that she too once had a brain tumour. I thought, "Um, no offence but my party is not where I want to hear about this." So I politely smiled, said that I was sorry to hear it, and excused myself while quietly laughing as I walked away.
(Note to everyone reading this post - try and refrain from telling a sad story at someone's birthday party).
Being resilient takes having the right coping skills. So if it means having a belly laugh over a crazy comment or giggling at a discussion that you're not willing to have, let it out. It's more important that you be okay with it than worry about what others may think of you.
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