The Gift of Laughter in Grief

If you are staid, formal, and have rigid ideas about what is acceptable behavior for the grieving, you should stop reading now, because this post is about the blessing, value, and power of humor in grief.

Since Jim’s death, our family has shed tears, but we have also laughed—a lot. Jim’s celebration of life included humorous stories, which brought laughter.

A Gathering of Friends and Family

Several nights after Jim’s death, the house teemed with friends and family. I knew someone was bringing food (thankfully a dear cousin coordinated the meals) and I encouraged those who were in the house to stay for supper. Before the meal was over, the storytelling began. One humorous anecdote rolled into the next until we were crying with laughter.

Those stories, and that laughter, were good medicine for me. The shock of Jim’s death was still fresh, and sleep was elusive. Having loved ones around the table, where we have hosted so many gatherings, was comforting, and the sound of the rise and fall of laughter felt right and normal.

That night, I praised God for the gift of laughter.

Grandchildren’s Perspective

Children have an open approach to life events, including death. They aren’t tied to formality and say exactly what they see or perceive.

When our son told his daughter he had something important to tell her, she said, “Please don’t tell me someone else died!” Apparently, his tone of voice or words were similar to his telling her of my aunt’s death in 2022.

Emerald decided not to see Bop in the casket, but drew pictures based on what she remembered from seeing “Chinkie.” Just before Jim’s service, Emerald told her daddy she wanted everyone to see her pictures. They were amazingly accurate!

The day before Jim’s celebration of life, I took my daughter and oldest grandson to see Bop at the mortuary. I expected it to be a bittersweet time, and it was. Gibbs stood beside the casket, with a thoughtful expression on his sweet face. He touched Jim’s sleeve and looked at his hands. Then he stroked Jim’s face, and announced, “Bop’s face is hard as a rock!” He was correct. The soft cheek he often leaned against in the recliner didn’t feel like the Bop he knew. His honesty that day lightened an otherwise intense situation.

The younger grandson didn’t see Jim in the casket. After we filed into the pew, Griffith leaned toward me, and in his loudest stage whisper, asked, “Is Bop in that box?”

The perspective of children in times of grief is fresh and often humorous. Don’t try to silence them. Enjoy their viewpoint, and if it makes you laugh or smile, realize comic relief is a gift.

Daily Nuggets of Humor

Cleaning out Jim’s home office is one of the more challenging aspects of this season of grief. Jim saved everything from boxes to greeting cards, books to all the files from his parents’ house. Going through all these items is hard.

One day, when grief was especially heavy, I found a treasure trove of Jim’s baby pictures. The expression on his face in one of the pictures made me to laugh uncontrollably. It was just the spirit-lifter I needed in that moment.

I’ve experienced humor-for-the-day moments many times in recent weeks, and I praise God for this gift.

The Healing Power of Laughter in Grief

God created all emotions and I believe joy is at the top of the list.

When Jesus raised Lazarus from the grave, shortly after openly weeping with the sisters, I believe all who witnessed that event celebrated with great joy and exuberant laughter.

Nothing in scriptures says you can’t experience more than one emotion at a time. Humor, laughter, and joy shouldn’t be excluded in grief. They serve a valuable purpose, elevating spirits and reminding us of happy times we shared with our loved ones.

Death doesn’t mean we can never enjoy life again. Grief doesn’t equal suspended forward motion. Life goes on, and you do not dishonor the dead by experiencing joy. Laughter heals and restores, and it is possible for joy and grief to coexist.

“A joy-filled heart is curative balm, but a broken spirit hurts all the way to the bone” (Proverbs 17:22 VOICE).


Candy Arrington is a writer, blogger, speaker, and freelance editor. She often writes on tough topics with a focus on moving through, and beyond, difficult life circumstances. Candy has written hundreds of articles, stories, and devotionals published by numerous outlets including:,,,,, Focus on the Family,,, and Writer’s Digest. Candy’s books include Life on Pause: Learning to Wait Well (Bold Vision Books), When Your Aging Parent Needs Care (Harvest House), and AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B&H Publishing Group).

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  1. Dear Candy, I see you moving through this time of grief, as I knew you would, and one of the blessings you are giving others is a permission to grieve like Jesus would want them to grieve!

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