Laughter in dying

Laughter in dying

Often I go and visit a family to prepare for a funeral with them and they apologize to me for laughing. They seem to think that the laughter is disrespectful, that it undermines their grief in some way and that I might judge them for it. On the contrary, I feel it is a very important part of grief and in some ways, if appropriate, it should be encouraged. Happy memories are what sustain us through the darker times.  Someone will have a good laugh at my funeral when they remember some of my terrible doggerel but this is one I wrote while reflecting on life, grief and laughter.

Laughter in dying

You can almost guarantee, that some laughter you will find,

When you visit a family with recent loss on their mind;

“Come on in duck, we saw you coming up the path,

Kettles on, the photos are out and we’ve been having a laugh!”


“Don’t think us bad will you? Sit down there by the table,

That’s Bob, that the dog and that’s a recent one of ‘Our Mable’”

“Can you tell she was a feisty, grumpy, stubborn old cuss!

A pain at times, but don’t say that, cos she was one of us!”


“We remember this time!” and clutching a photo, they recount a tale,

And laugh, “Sorry love, we’ve side tracked, we do that without fail!”

Then someone remarks, “She loved to laugh, boy could she clacker,

Mind you when she was younger she was a bloody cracker!”


“Look at this!” they point, and a young stunner, I could see,

It’s then the tears start falling to water down his half-drunk tea.

That black ‘n’ white wedding shot had seen much better days,

Creased, but he’s looking at her with a ‘cat got the cream’ gaze.


And they are laughing cheekily, about young loves private joke,

It’s too much for him now; “Ducky,  I’m going out to have a smoke”

I share my biscuit with the dog, and Bob’s back in after his fag.

He announces, “We’re having the funeral flowers in the shape of a handbag!”


I laugh with them all and ask “Bob what can you never forget?”

He says “We were in Blackpool, she lost her teeth, well just the top set!”

That sets us all off again, this time he’s laughing and crying,

Bob and Mable’s life and laughter, and their laughter in dying.


Copyright Alison Kirkham 2014