I’ll Take Mine With A Side of Humor
Humor is a very funny thing. Always a bit risky, but the reward of laughter is addictive. Laughing is fun in itself. I love hanging around people who always laugh in the right places, appreciating a bon mot with their bon bons. And there are health benefits of laughing as well: Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after. Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease. Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain. Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.
Taking Humor To The Grave:
Gallows humor is a sub-class. Wikipedia defines it as: “humor in the face of or about very unpleasant, serious, or painful circumstances. Any humor that treats serious matters, such as death, war, disease, crime, etc., in a light, silly or satirical fashion is considered gallows humor. Gallows humor has been described as a witticism in the face of – and in response to – a hopeless situation. It arises from stressful, traumatic, or life-threatening situations, often in circumstances such that death is perceived as impending and unavoidable.” In one of my favorite magazine articles ever, “In Defiance Of Gravity”, Tom Robbins relates this story: “When Oscar Wilde allegedly gestured at the garish wallpaper in his cheap Parisian hotel room and announced with his dying breath, ‘Either it goes or I go’, he was exhibiting something beyond an irrepressibly brilliant wit….Crazy wisdom is the opposite of conventional wisdom. It is wisdom that deliberately swims against the current in order to avoid being swept along in the numbing wake of bourgeois compromise; wisdom that flouts taboos in order to undermine their power; wisdom that evolves when one, while refusing to avert one’s gaze from sorrows and injustices of the world, insists on joy in spite of everything; wisdom that embraces risk and eschews security; wisdom that turns the tables on neurosis by lampooning it.”
Mourning Without The Maudlin
The last ‘good’ funeral I attended was my Dad’s, and that was in 1981. It was ‘good’ because we were able to be playful as we told, and re-told, the many stories of his life, and we continue to tell those stories. Since then, the funerals have been quite dour: sullen and gloomy. In an effort to lighten the gloom, flout the taboo of befriending Death, and maybe have a chuckle or two, I offer the following:
Thirteen fun ways to say ‘good-by’. The last one is a video of a Memorial to Graham Chapman by the Monty Python left behinds. It does use some profanity, but with a British accent.