by Allen Klein, MA, CSP
My daughter was ten-years-old when my wife died. The three years that we knew my wife had a terminal illness was a terrible strain on both of us. I realized after my wife’s death that my daughter and I needed a reprieve from what we had been through. We needed an adventure. So I booked a trip to Alaska on the Inside Passage ferry system. And what an adventure it was. We went whitewater rafting, took seaplane rides, and spent the night next to a calving glacier.
Taking the trip was an instinctual decision but, looking back, a very wise one. It not only helped take our minds off of our loss but it also helped us bond. That bonding allowed us to talk openly about Ellen’s death. It made it easier to not hide our feelings or avoid conversations about our loss. It also allowed us to both laugh and cry together.
We would often talk about missing Ellen. Frequently, when we didn’t quite know what to do in a situation, we would turn to each other and ask, “What would Mommy do?” And then do it her way. Often we discussed Ellen as if she were alive and still part of our life, which, on some level, she was. And we continued to have those conversations, although less so as time went on.
To keep your loved one alive, learn from the lessons they have left for you and you will be speaking of them often. And remember the funny times too.
One of those humorous times has become my signature story in my speeches. “My wife, Ellen, lay dying in the hospital, a copy of Playgirl by her side. Suddenly, she opened to the male nude centerfold and insisted it be put on the wall ‘I think it’s too risqué for the hospital, I said.
Nonsense, she replied. Just take a leaf from the plant and cover up the genitals.’
I did as she requested. This worked well for the first and second day. By the third day, however, the leaf started to shrivel and reveal more of what we were trying to conceal.
We laughed every time we looked at a plant or a dried-up leaf. It brought us closer together, revived us, and steered us through our sea of darkness. It is humor and laughter that can help us rise above our trials, tribulations, and losses, so that we don’t suffer.
Allen Klein is an award-winning speaker and author 17 books including The Healing Power of Humor, The Courage to Laugh, Inspiration for a Lifetime, Change Your Life!: A Little Book of Big Ideas, Learning to Laugh When You Feel Like Crying, and the audiobook TeacherLaughs www.allenklein.com Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org