Every year we have a gathering, a party, a reunion with a number of friends who I have known for many years. This group has become known as our “French Crowd” not because of their nationality but because for twenty-five years this gathering has been held in Brittany in France. Not only has this week-long party been an opportunity to catch up with news and personal experiences but it’s become a time of great laughter. On our first night together we have a fancy dress evening just to make sure we start off as we mean to go on! We laugh till we hurt, we laugh till we cry and we laugh at ourselves! For the last ten years or so we have had a second annual gathering in December, a Christmas party which is an explosion of laughter.
Laughter has many benefits including the releasing of pent up stress and anxiety and our group has used this to cope with many of life’s challenges including cancer, loss of loved ones, fears and worries about our children and so on. This year one of my dearest friends gave a powerful display of the way a sense of humourcan give courage and strength to cope with a distressing situation.
Brenda is a dear friend of many years and also the number one support in my work. She is my P.A., my organiser and my confidante in everything I do. You may well have had some connection with her already and will have experienced her upbeat attitude and positive approach to life. She has just surpassed herself in turning misfortune into a chance to shine. A few years ago she fell outside a shopping mall and she hurt her hand. Subsequently, she discovered that she had fractured her little finger on her left hand. Over the following years the little finger began to curl in and she developed Dupuytren’s syndrome. She had three operations to try to fix the problem, all of which failed.
Over the following years the finger gave her a lot of pain and made it difficult to manage even simple everyday tasks so she took the courageous decision to follow her surgeon’s advice and have the finger removed.
It doesn’t take much imagination to realise how shocking and traumatic a step that this was for her. However, two days after her operation she arrived at our Christmas party and had everyone laughing as she, with a huge smile on her face, held up her bandaged hand and shouted out “OK, I can’t do high fives any more so high fours to you all.” And this has been the theme of her recovery; the way that she is managing and coping with the experience. She makes her friends and herself laugh. She would have had every reason for staying at home and feeling sorry for herself but no, she is out and about, dosed up with morphine and enjoying the company and support of her friends and making us laugh.
Now, don’t get me wrong, Brenda needs to grieve for her loss, and I know she is doing this, but her attitude is to immediately look for the humour as an antidote to the pain, the loss and the trauma of the experience. She is a role model and inspiration, bless her.
Every side of life, every situation from war to loss can have moments that can give us a humorous take e.g. the MASH television series about casualty stations in the Korean War, and it’s up to us to look for it.
So my suggestion is for you to take another look at the worst situations you have gone through and see if you cannot extract at least one change of perspective and find the funny side. Share this with friends and see how it changes your feelings on the subject.
Laughter can release tension, negative emotions and give us courage to cope with life’s challenges
Laughter bonds us with friends and strangers – sharing a funny moment crosses all boundaries
Laughter gives us the chance to let go a negative memory and turn it into a positive to share
Laughter is infectious – it uplifts our spirits, our energy and those around us
Lots of love and lots of laughter to you over the festive season