Coping Through Laughter

Warning – this post contains raw emotion and raw humor around the topic of losing a loved one.  If you are sensitive to this topic, or if you don’t like the idea of using bad-taste humor to cope with tragedy, it’s okay if you don’t read on.  Check back with me next week, when I’ll likely be back to regular programming.

I am typing this sitting at my mother’s bedside.  As I was pulling into the parking lot of a restaurant last night to meet some friends for dinner, my cell phone rang.  It was my dad.  His only words were “I need you to come home right now.”  He didn’t have to say anything else. 

My mom has been battling a terrible disease for years.  I wont go into the details about its symptoms other than to say it takes away a piece of you every day, slowly, over the course of 5-7 years until there is nothing left, physically or mentally. 

I’ve come to know that there is a distinct difference between:

  • learning about a death,
  • dealing with a sudden death, and
  • watching death happen. 

I’ve been watching the process of my mom dying in slow motion for 5 years.  It has taught me so much about life, compassion, commitment, true love, faith, and purpose.  I think that losing a loved one changes you…not just from the loss, but also from the process of the loss.

So, here I sit with my family, in these final, precious moments that I will remember for the rest of my life.  And what are we doing?  Coping.  And how are we doing that?  Some are calm and spiritual, while others are hysterical.  Some are crying, while others are remembering the good times and smiling.  In all honesty, I think everyone here is going through all of those emotions, in their own ways.  Every once in a while the immense stress is broken by laughter, like this morning when…

We were all sitting quietly.  My dad was reading the Sunday paper, Lifestyle section, when he said…

Dad:  That’s a bad picture of Mrs. Gilbert.

Sister:  Who’s Mrs. Gilbert?

Dad:  I have no idea.

Sister: Then how do you know it’s a bad picture?

Dad:  Bwahahahahahahahaaaaaaaaa!

Dad passes the paper to me.

Me: Bwahahahahahahahaaaaaaaaa!

Sister:  Come on guys, there is nothing in that paper that could possibly be that funny.

I pass the paper to my sister.

Sister:  Bwahahahahahhahaaaaaaaa!



What?  It’s not close enough?  Okay, okay, let me zoom it in a little more…


Is it just me, or are her dentures falling out? 

Help us break the stress of these days.  I know you might feel compelled to write I’m sorry about your mom, or hang in there, or sending out my prayers in the comments section.  If you are thinking those things, thank you from the bottom of my heart.  Prayers are always appreciated here, if you’re the praying type.  In addition, there is something else you can do…

What we could really use at this moment, as strange as it may seem until you have actually met my family, is a little more laughter to break the stress.  Make us laugh.

How would you caption the above photos?

If you liked this post you may also like A Birthday Card for Mom and Love Part 1.


23 responses to this post.

  1. Caption: We can not only laugh at ourselves we can make ourselves laugh. I remember that when President Reagan was shot and being wheeled into the operating room, he said to the doctors “I sure hope you guys are Republicans.” That captures the essence of your post today.


  2. Caption: Hair extentions? Pah! Gum extentions are the new rage.

    Humour is the best medicine. I use it a lot.


  3. Posted by Andie on March 21, 2011 at 8:39 am

    Caption:Fred, I am not sure that having the veterinarian cut out Trigger’s teeth so that we would not have use our gambling money to buy me new dentures was a good idea. Please pass me the applesauce.

    My guess is that laughter is something that is familiar to your mom.

    Check out the famous Mary Tyler Moore episode, Chuckles Bites the Dust. Mary Tyler Moore 20th Anniversary Special


    • Bwhahahahahahahaaa! Good one, Andie. I’m sure that Mrs. Gilbert is a lovely woman – and I felt kinda bad poking fun at the picture – but when you need a laugh…you need a laugh.


  4. During these stressful situation we need stress busters like the Gilberts. Glad you guys found a moment of laughter. You (and your family)are in my heart and prayers as you go through this.


  5. I believe in laughter, any time, any where. It heals. It breaks up the raw emotion.
    My 88 year old mom told me recently she didn’t want us to cry and be sad when she was gone, she wanted us to remember all the funny stories and memories we could and laugh.
    I know this isn’t a caption for that woman with the awful gums but I wanted to share my mom’s words. I’m guessing your mother would want the same.


  6. Reading this post brought back a TON of memories for me while sitting with my father in hospice, waiting.

    “And what are we doing? Coping. And how are we doing that? Some are calm and spiritual, while others are hysterical. Some are crying, while others are remembering the good times and smiling.”

    Honestly, I know what you mean what about laughter. It’s truly the best medicine for coping. And isn’t it something how laughter swoops in at the best time?

    I laughed so hard at the last picture of Mrs. Gilbert because, yes, it DOES look like her dentures are falling out.

    Caption: Get a Grip on Life…..get Poligrip!

    Sending ya a BIG cyber hug, Tracy…..

    ((((( Tracy )))))



    • So sorry you had to go through that with your dad, Ron. Hospice has been just wonderful to us – the nurses deserve a lot of credit for what they do every day. Poor Ms. Gilbert, but I can’t help laughing so hard either – her family must have had a better picture to put in the newspaper…or…maybe not.


  7. Posted by Stacey on March 21, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    “Picket fence growing out of grandma’s mouth”


  8. Posted by Stacey on March 21, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    Grandma, what BIG teeth you have!


  9. I am now laughing hysterically. Thanks Tracy!


  10. Do these false teeth make my wig look yellow? (Sorry Mrs. G.)


  11. My caption is: “Coming to a theatre near you: Jaws 5 – Grandma’s Revenge”


  12. i just snorted. thank u for that public humiliation. thank u for your post, taking us w u for a bit on your life journey, connecting. we r all less alone. keep on.


  13. Posted by Debbie on March 31, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    Top Headline: 75 year old woman sneezes, gives self tracheotomy.


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