Dear Joy,

If you don’t laugh, you cry.

To be totally fair, I’m not sure if this is something I came up with or someone has said it long before me, but it’s a phrase I have been using for years. One of my personal favorites.

I love laughing. I love being silly and making jokes. I would love to spend all my time with people who make me laugh until my stomach hurts (very few people actually have this skill but I’m lucky to know a few). But life is sometimes really really unfunny. Like full of situations where you are crying or screaming or shouting, and any one of these usually involves lots of tears from me regardless. I am fully aware that not everything can be turned into a joke and that humor is not always the most appropriate way to go. But it actually is more often than you may think.

After you’ve felt the feelings and felt the pain, or comforted your friend or cried with your family, there should always be space for laughter. If you didn’t start to laugh at some point you would just cry forever. I cried about my mother’s cancer, lots and lots and lots. But I also made dark jokes about it and when at some point early on was able to share this humor with her and she joined right in. Plenty of stuff about hospital appointments and strange drug side effects can be funny. If you were sitting in the waiting room and couldn’t laugh about how ugly the plant looked or how ridiculous the painting they had chosen was, you might just sit in there and cry because it’s a hard place to be. But laughter makes it easier.

Humor as a coping mechanism. Yes, that’s what it is. Why is “blank… as a coping mechanism” seen as something negative? What’s negative about coping? If laughter and jokes help you through the darkest times, then go for it. I couldn’t just cry and cry. I couldn’t do it. It’s also quite tiring. But if I didn’t laugh, that’s what I would be doing instead. Trying to make the best out of the worst. Make it funny. Allow yourself to laugh at the ridiculousness of the darkness that we find ourselves in.