LAUGHTER - ONE OF THE BEST MEDICINES?
I've had to deal with the most horrible aspect of poor mental health - suicide - as have many other funeral directors. Just recently I looked after a gentleman in his 60s who had taken his own life. It's a really sad part of the job and I'm not alone in wanting to see the number of deaths by suicide go down; to have none would be at the top of my wishlist.
In 2015, according to a report by the Samaritans, there were 6,188 suicides in
the UK and 451 in the Republic of Ireland. The highest suicide rate in
the UK was for men aged 40–44 and the highest rate in the Republic of Ireland
was for men aged 25–34, with an almost identical rate for men aged 45–54. Men
kill themselves more often than women do. That's a fact.
I'm no psychiatrist, for sure, but I do deal with life and death every day and I have learned a few things about the human condition. One thing I've seen time and time again is that in the midst of life's difficulties, including grief, many people still manage to find humour. It can seem as natural to us as breathing.
Look at babies and toddlers, who just find things funny. They haven't been taught to laugh or told what to laugh at, and their laughter is contagious. Move on a few years and see how popular TV comedies and comedy nights are with adults. Many of us virtually idolise those people who have us rolling around with tears of laughter running down our faces.
Laughter connects us and is actually one of the most basic ways human beings
communicate. But laughter also helps to increase things like self-esteem and
resilience, and can help us to feel much more positive too. It can also help
with things like grief, depression and isolation.
It can often seem like life is getting the better of us, with troughs as well as peaks. Mental health issues are discussed a lot nowadays, but still not enough, in my opinion. The more we air mental health issues and try to understand and find ways to help, the better. Laughter won't solve all our problems, far from it. But I do believe it goes a long way in soothing pain and bringing people together.
Let's have a laugh together, more often.
Until next time