Humor During Difficult Times

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Laughter is the best medicine. We’ve all heard the saying, but I’ve found there is a lot of truth to that simple sentence.

In 2004, when my mother had her first stroke and my father clearly exhibited signs of diminishing mental capacity, my sisters and I were in shock. How could all these changes be happening so rapidly? Dad was calling my husband every night asking the same questions about his computer. Mom, who battled severe rheumatoid arthritis with admirable will, was having difficulty managing tasks that used to be routine for her. Our wonderful parents’ active retirement in Florida was severely impeded with on-going health issues. Situations like this come up for families all too regularly. Whether it is a parent, a spouse or even a child, these issues change our lives dramatically. Needless to say, laughter was not high on my sisters’ and my priority list.

Fortunately, a good friend talked to me about going through a similar situation with her mother. Her mother taught her a valuable lesson in the course of her illness – laugh as often as possible. When things happen, even difficult and trying situations, try to find the humor in it. My sisters, my parents and I did just that. We were not disrespectful, and we certainly did not laugh when serious changes occurred, but we did find humor and were all able to laugh at some of the situations that happened over the next five years. Keeping our laughter to situations, not the person, kept us sane through the difficult times.

“Your sense of humor is one of the most powerful tools you have to make certain that your daily mood and emotional state support good health.” Paul E. McGhee, Ph.D.

In an article on HelpGuide.org titled “Laughter is the Best Medicine,” the link between laughter and mental health are described as follows:
•  Laughter dissolves distressing emotions.
•  Laughter helps you relax and recharge.
•  Humor shifts perspective, allowing you to see situations in a more realistic, less threatening light.

As a popular quote says: "You don't stop laughing because you're old. You grow old because you stop laughing." Find something to laugh about today – and share it with a friend or family member!

A wonderful friend of Surrey’s sends me jokes, funny sayings or amusing pictures once a week. You can often hear laughing in the Surrey hallways as staff read the jokes that I have shared with them or posted outside my office. It is a wonderful sound and just one of many wonderful things that friends of Surrey bring to our lives.

Barbara J. Fentress

President & CEO