Humor in the Hard Stuff…even in Hospice

grief my story Nov 20, 2023
Illustration of Charis Santillie moving from sadness to laughter
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🎧 👉 Prefer audio? You can also listen to me share about this in podcast episode #084 here.

In life, we often have anniversaries that hold a significant place in our hearts. While some may associate anniversaries with their partners or loved ones, other milestones also deserve recognition. As I reflect on this year's Thanksgiving, I am reminded that it marks the 10th anniversary of my Mom's passing. This milestone has prompted me to reminisce about the beautiful memories I shared with her, the ones filled with laughter even in the midst of challenging times.

I was even able to find humor in hospice!

It was a time of bittersweet moments and profound reflection. Amidst this emotional journey, I found solace in the power of humor.

Today, I want to share with you some of the sweet and hilarious memories that continue to bring a smile to my face.

A Secret Chuckle in the Room

During one of my visits, my brother and his family came over to spend time with Mom. In the midst of the chatter, I went around the room doing some tidying and noticed a container of yogurt on a table next to Mom's bed. Curiosity struck, and I wondered how old it was. I jokingly whispered under my breath, "Well, what's it going to do? Kill her?" My nephew was the only one close enough to hear me, and as our eyes met, we each stifled our laughter, realizing the absurdity of the situation. In those tender moments, humor gave us a little relief from the heaviness surrounding us.

Unexplained Mysteries

When my mother entered hospice, there were a few bandages on her body from being in the hospital the week prior. The welcoming nurse inquired about a bandage on her leg, and we couldn't recall why it was there. The nurse slowly removed the bandage, only to unveil untouched, flawless skin beneath. It was a mystery as to why it was there, and yet it served an awesome purpose—it led us to all burst into laughter, lightening the atmosphere.

The Candle

As my Dad and I arrived one day on a visit to my mother, we walked past a room with a flickering candle above the bed—a ritual to honor the departed. In a moment of levity, my father turned to me and humorously remarked, "Boy, people are just dying to get out of here." Despite the solemn setting, our laughter broke through, reminding us that amidst loss, life still can weave a little joy in.

A Farewell Gesture

A dear family friend, Debbie, who is like a sister to me and even babysat me when I was a child, was able to be there for my Mom's final breaths. I had left a few days prior, after spending 4 weeks with Mom. I knew that it was time for me to go, and that I needed to go so that Mom could go, too. I just could sense that. Debbie, who shared a special bond with Mom, called me on Thanksgiving morning with the news. (Yep, Mom decided to move on Thanksgiving morning.) And there was a twist to the tale. When Debbie sat with my Mom, saying her goodbyes, she noticed that the middle finger on her right hand was missing the press-on nail. Knowing my mother's spirited personality, we couldn't help but find solace and amusement in this poignant final act. (She certainly wouldn't hesitate, when warranted, to playfully give the middle finger to a family member or close friend.) 

These are just glimpses of the memories that make my heart smile when I think of those challenging times in hospice. Through my experiences, I have come to realize that humor holds immense healing power. It gives us permission to find light in the dark and to share a smirk or a smile in the face of adversity.

Today, I urge you to grant yourself the same permission, whether reflecting on past hardships, navigating present challenges, or bracing yourself for the unknown. Let laughter in and allow it to be your guiding light. 

May these stories of humor and my mother's infectious spirit inspire you to cherish the funny moments in your own life. We are human, and laughter is an essential part of our journey. So, as you mark your own milestones, remember to give yourself the gift of laughter, even amidst the hard times. After all, humor is a bridge that connects us and reminds us that we are never alone on this adventure called life.

“Comedy is tragedy plus time.” 

– Carol Burnett

🎧 👉 Prefer audio? You can also listen to me share about this in podcast episode #084 here.

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