Yes, I know it’s cliche to say laughter is the best medicine. But it’s so true that only a cliche does justice to the fact. My dad had a hard life, born to a fourteen-year-old Italian immigrant then shuttled away to an orphanage until he almost died from scarlet fever at the age of three. The woman I call my great grandmother brought him home to nurse him and raised him mostly by herself. Despite eventually having a relationship with his mother and younger half brother to a certain extent, I’m sure Dad had to deal with feelings of rejection and a lack of love all his life.
Maybe this early beginning contributed to his diagnoses in later life as manic depressive. I’m certain it was a factor in the way he lived his life. Dad was very loving yet had an Italian temper that was touched off easily if a matter lit a fuse close to his childhood fears. The thing that brought him through it all, though, was his great sense of humor. When he passed away and I struggled with my grief, it was the memory of his laughter that was my biggest consolation. I am proud of the fact that he passed this trait to me and my sisters. Without laughter all there is left is sorrow and pain.
The article quoted below was one I read in the newspaper Real Change sold in Seattle by homeless vendors. It highlights a program that understands the healing power of laughter and will perhaps give people an insight into that homeless person you might see standing on the corner talking to himself. That person is not so unlike my Dad, not so unlike any of us. I hope you will click through and read the whole article. It is worth your time and thought.
Stand Up for Mental Health was founded by David Granirer, a 52-year-old Canadian therapist and performer who used comedy to deal with his own depression. In 1993, Granirer worked at a crisis center and started doing stand-up-style comedy for the patients.
For years, he honed his act by day and at night did stand-up in local clubs. It wasn’t until someone asked him to teach a comedy class to some clients at a crisis clinic in Vancouver, b.c., that Granirer discovered comedy’s potential to transform.
According to a study by social worker and veteran trauma specialist Jacqueline Garrick, humor alone doesn’t heal, but it offers people a way to cope.
Garrick studied therapeutic treatments for trauma and found that humor made people feel comfortable sharing difficult memories during therapy.