Is It OK To Laugh At a Funeral? August 24, 2022

Have you ever wondered if it’s ok to laugh at a funeral? Maybe it feels disrespectful, or you don’t want to disappoint anyone by laughing when so many people are sad.

But when it comes to emotions, especially complicated emotions like grief, situations are rarely black and white. Let’s talk about why it’s ok to laugh at a funeral.

Why Do People Laugh at Funerals?

Have you ever been in an awkward situation and laughed, even though you didn’t do so intentionally? Laughter is a common reaction when we are feeling vulnerable, awkward, out of place, or unsure.

Laughing can be a defense mechanism that helps protect us when emotions run too high. That can certainly be the case at a funeral: we are grieving the death of a loved one, we are likely tired, we are worn out. Laughing can help us endure challenging situations and events because it releases endorphins that our body needs.

We can also laugh at funerals because sometimes, things are funny at a funeral service. Timing matters of course. It’s likely better to laugh when someone shares a funny memory or anecdote than when a priest is invoking prayer. Nonetheless, there can be completely appropriate laughter at a funeral service.

laugh at a funeral, laughing at a funeral, laughing at funerals, why do people laugh at funerals, Bateman-Allen Funeral Home, funeral home near me, funeral home PennsylvaniaHow Laughing At a Funeral Helps With Grief

Humor in general, and laughter specifically, can provide a much-needed distraction from the overwhelming emotions of grief and loss that we feel when a loved one dies. The physical effects of laughter, notably the increase of dopamine, endorphins, T-cells, and immune proteins, can help us feel better physically. Physical benefits of laughter include decreased stress, less pain, improved immunity, and elevated mood.

Laughter, when shared with others, can also improve relationships. Helping others laugh at stressful times can be a way to get to know each other better and strengthen bonds. Laughing together can help us fight less and can create new experiences and memories that will help relieve the collective grief you feel.

Is It Ever Not OK to Laugh at a Funeral?

Words like ever and never are difficult to justify.  Every situation is different. But there may be situations that feel absolutely sacrosanct. In those cases, laughter may not be welcome. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find moments of levity, perhaps after the service or at the meal, if one is held. 

And while it may not feel appropriate to laugh with everyone in attendance, it might be possible to find a trusted loved one ( a cousin or sibling, perhaps) who understands your sense of humor and also feels the need to laugh or smile.

It’s important to read the room whenever emotions are high. You know your family and friends enough to know whether or not jokes or funny memories will be appreciated. If you feel they won’t be, but still want to try to lighten the mood, perhaps try sharing a kind memory and a smile rather than telling a joke.

How Long After a Funeral Can I Laugh Again?

There is no timeline to grief. Some folks might laugh at a funeral service or when the family is gathered immediately after a loved one’s death. Others might not be able to smile for a long time.

Neither situation is right or wrong. It just is. Emotions are complicated, and that’s especially true when it comes to grief. Respecting one another, talking about our feelings, and supporting one another is the best way to move through grief.

There’s no magic number when it comes to “getting back to normal” after someone you love dies. Even if you weren’t close to the person who passed, the death of someone you know can affect you for longer than you might expect.

What If I Don’t Feel Like Laughing?

It is important to allow joy back into our lives, even as we mourn. If it’s hard to laugh, try simply observing things that bring you joy: maybe it’s music that makes you want to dance, or a meal that you find irresistible. Whatever it is, allowing pleasure into your life as you grieve can help you remember that life is a balance between sadness and joy.

If you need a little help to give yourself permission to laugh again, you might try watching a funny movie or TV show. Or you could go to a comedy club or watch a comedy special on Netflix. YouTube can be a place for show clips or silly jokes, as can podcasts and books.

You could also engage the help of a friend. Going to a festival or event together can provide opportunities for fun. Playing board games with friends like Apples to Apples can inspire laughter or at least levity. So can sharing a meal and conversation.

The bottom line is this: laughter, like other expressions, is human. It’s ok and even beneficial to laugh when you are sad, and it’s ok to need a little more time before you feel ready to laugh. Pay attention to how you’re feeling, reach out for help when you need to, and remember that grief is a process that is different for everyone.

Part of our job at Bateman-Allen Funeral Home is to help you no matter where you are on this journey. That means talking about things that it might feel strange to talk about; but believe us when we say there are no off-limits topics when it comes to dealing with death and grief. If you and your family need guidance, we’re here for you.