Joke’s A Part: People Using Humor As A Coping Mechanism

by | Feb 7, 2024 | Mental health | 0 comments

Photo by Lesly Juarez on Unsplash

Laughter brightens up one’s mood. A smile can turn one’s foul day around. But is using humor as a coping mechanism the right thing to do, or would it be disrespectful?

Laughter is the opposite of weeping.

In the face of depression, people are encouraged to cheer up. They’re encouraged to engage in activities or situations that lighten their mood. A good laugh is a surefire way to brighten their days, a positive sphere that drives away the blues. For what is the opposite of sadness if not happiness? For what is a smile if not a frown turned upside down?

However, while humor may be an all-positive aspect in people’s lives, it doesn’t always bring out a positive impression. It might be a universal tool commonly used to relieve stressful emotions. But it should also be remembered that not every positive thing is commendable, mainly when used inappropriately. Humor as a coping mechanism might be a norm.

But should every norm be acceptable?

Humor As a Coping Mechanism In The Presence Of Grief

When people fall into a spiral of negativity, they must find a means of release. To avoid succumbing to the darkness, people should seek light or positive thoughts amid the situation. This is a conscious effort to dampen the gloom and reduce the impact or the force of cynicism.

To achieve this, people can fall into two paths of release and propel themselves back up one of two different ways. Whenever they find their cups brimming with grief and negativity, people can either sit with the sadness or seek a positive side to the situation. This means people can cry their hearts out or find humor in the situation.

But when both relieve the heaviness that fills one’s heart, can both reactions be interchangeable?

People generally put themselves first in any situation. People subconsciously seek processes that preserve themselves, ensuring their safety. After all, survival is an instinct that initiates changes and behaviors to prepare the body. These behaviors are referred to as coping mechanisms in the presence of stress.

People employ different mechanisms depending on the situation at hand

One Caregiver’s Journey is a 10 year journey about how author Eleanor Gaccetta took care of her mother, documenting her process of grieving when she passed away. Although this shows the author’s gradual loss and the pain she encountered over time, it also shows that suffering doesn’t always equate with sorrow, buther book also showcases joy.

Eleanor’s memoir opens a new perspective regarding grief. It highlights how people cope differently, and while others need a good cry, Eleanor incorporates humor and love into her healing process.

Between weeping and laughter, the latter is often the standard option.

Using humor as a coping mechanism might leave a bitter taste in one’s mouth, especially when the situation involves grief. In such circumstances, crying is typically deemed the most appropriate release of emotions, a liberty from the sadness of loss. The process of laughing or even smiling during mourning might seem disrespectful. It’s ill-mannered for people to find humor in such a dire situation. Humor as a coping mechanism in the face of death can easily be associated with the happiness of one’s loss instead of the contrary – sadness. Sometimes death is a blessing to watching someone suffer, you are happy they can be at peace.

Multiple studies posit otherwise

While it may seem disrespectful to find laughter throughout grieving, humor is an effective coping mechanism for harsh and extreme losses. This can seem counterintuitive. After all, loss must be expressed, typically through crying. However, remembering happy occasions or events brings a different level of grieving with humor.

This doesn’t mean people must crack jokes at every moment at funerals. We can’t force people to laugh when they feel like crying. However, hurting can be lessened with humor.

Sprinkling one’s mourning with a bit of laughter and humor won’t hurt. It won’t even be disrespectful to the ones who has passed away. If anything, they may even appreciate seeing their loved ones find happiness again despite the circumstances. Humor as a coping mechanism helps manage people’s emotions, allowing them to stay within the light despite adversity.


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