A funeral is a place where sadness is prevalent yet our emotions can be exhibited in different ways such as laughter.
Certainly, laughter is one of the more undesirable reactions that can spring up on those attending a funeral. Strangely enough, it’s a response that is more common than you might think with some of us battling hysterics during the ceremony.
Dr Abigael San, Chartered Clinical Psychologist, explained this natural reaction, recommending what we can do if we find ourselves in a similar situation.
Dr San stated: “A funeral is a situation that many people find very difficult emotionally with everything that it represents.
“An expression of laughter can be what we call a manic defence, almost like a coping strategy but in a defensive way. Anything to divert the reality of what’s happening and the reality of loss and human vulnerability and the end of life.”
We all know that a funeral is surely the last place that we ‘d want to get caught in an endless loop of hysterical laughter. However, it indeed does happen all too often during difficult experiences.
Although we all agree it’s a natural reaction and totally out of hand, we still question how we can prevent this if we get struck down with a bad case of the giggles at the graveside.
Fortunately, Dr. San outlined some solutions, as she said: “A suggestion would be to notice and acknowledge what is going on internally, to self monitor a bit about what’s happening within you physiologically.”
She suggested that we can breathe through it and maybe wiggle our toes and concentrate on the feeling of our feet for a moment.
“Focus on something that’s actually happening at the present moment instead of acting on the feeling but let the feeling be there and wash over you.”
“That doesn’t mean that you’re avoiding what you’re thinking or feeling but it’s almost like having your attention on more than one thing at the same time and that can make it a bit easier to manage.”
By all accounts, it appears to be a natural reaction that is something we shouldn’t worry about.
She went on saying: “It’s nothing to be worried about, it’s quite typical to not want to be engaging in feelings that are uncomfortable.”
“There’s nothing wrong with that but I guess the behavioural expression of that can sometimes be a bit confusing although it’s just one of our many defence mechanisms.”