Touched by loss. Empowered through community.

Laughing Out Loud

Date: 
Monday, July 20, 2015
Posted By: 
Jeannine Love

Recently a newly-widowed acquaintance told me of an experience in which she had startled herself with her own laughter. It was unexpected, and it had caught her off guard. It was such a strange feeling, she said. The sound of her own laugh seemed so foreign to her, so out of place. I knew exactly what she meant.

For a long time after Aric died I felt the same way. Laughter, when it did come, seemed out of place and strange, and often hollow. I never expected to experience uninhibited laughter again. But, the other night, in remembering the strangeness of laughter in early widowhood, I realized just how much I laugh these days—and they are no longer the hollow, heavy laughs full of grief, but have become the deep, exuberant laughter full of joy.

Today I laugh much more loudly, I smile much more easily, and I love much more freely than I ever have. As much as grief suppressed the ability to laugh or feel joy early on, walking through my grief has helped me recognize the wonders life has to offer, and the importance of living in the moment.

I’ve also noticed a very marked difference in the way I think about—or perhaps more precisely, don’t think about—the future. I used to worry a lot about the future. When Aric died, I ceased being able to think past the next minute, and I couldn’t begin to imagine any future at all. Now, however, I can once again imagine the future, and I do, but these days I spend very little time worrying about what may or may not come.

There is no way to know what tomorrow holds, and the more time I spend worrying about the future or agonizing over the past, the less time I have to spend in the moment. And, that means less laughter. And, life is too short, and joy and laughter too precious.

As a result, I find that I’ve had a drastic reprioritizing of what is truly important in life: family, friends, being present, connecting, living, loving, and laughing. Indeed, in some ways grief has given me the gift of laughter in its most vital form: a deeper appreciation of the amazingness of life—including true, joyful, deep, uninhibited, exuberant laughter.

I now see the vibrant wonder of life much more fully and find myself striving to live in the present, connected and joyful—and laughing as much as possible.

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