I love a holiday just as much as anyone else but to me St. Patrick’s Day is not just a day to “green up” and drink a lot of booze. It’s a whole lot more.
It’s also a day to celebrate my Irish heritage and the unique way the Irish laugh at life. I take pride in knowing that the Irish have a rich and historic culture made up of a lot more than pub crawling. We also are a people known for having a wicked sense of humor. A bit rough and tumble you might say.
Growing up in my large unruly family of eight, with cousins too many to count, I learned at a young age how valuable it is to carry a sense of humor and, in particular, to be ready to make fun of and laugh at myself. If I didn’t see how ridiculous I was when I did or said something, then I could always count on someone else in the family who was only too willing to show me.
My sense of humor has held me in good stead, especially in the dark times when life took a turn that was unexpected and short on hope. Such as when my beloved husband died many years ago.
Nothing was funny to me in the months following his death; my feelings of grief were fresh and raw. I found my life to be totally twisted. Yet I remember and still welcome the times when a friend tells a wonderful story about my husband and that sharing of warm memories, that human connection, always lifts my spirits and gives me strength. I don’t think you can ever underestimate the power of passing along amusing stories about those we love for that is one way of keeping them close to our hearts.
Telling funny stories about a loved one who has died may not be accepted by everyone but it works for me and I find it to be a healing way to process my loss. Making fun of a situation breaks it down. It makes it manageable. The first few times I found myself laughing, I felt guilty. I shouldn’t be enjoying myself when my husband is dead, I told myself. But I was wrong. Laughter is a normal part of life and life is to be enjoyed. Your loved one would want that for you.
Laughter didn’t change my situation but it helped me follow my instincts and it got me through painful times. Laughter relaxed my heart and helped me breath. Laughter helped me relax and connect to others.
But most of all, laughing at life reminds me that no matter what happens I can cope and find humor in being human, Irish genes and all!
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!