Humor as Medicine

Laughter can help ease the pain

By Hilary Berg

In 1989, I saw the first movie that had me bawlin’ like a baby: “Steel Magnolias.” The drama was made a classic by its sensational cast, including Sally Field (M’Lynn), Julia Roberts (Shelby), Shirley MacLaine (Oiuser), Olympia Dukakis (Clairee), Daryl Hannah (Annelle) and, who can forget, Dolly Parton (Truvy).

Set in Louisiana with the backdrop of Truvy’s salon, the story moves through the seasons revealing the ladies’ strong bond during times of tragedy and celebration, too.

Several gut-wrenching scenes require a box of tissue, not to mention fellow moviegoers who won’t judge your blubbering bawls. Yet mixed into the lows is belly-aching laughter, especially during the famous scene at the cemetery: M’Lynn is in so much grieving pain, she wants to hit something; Clairee volunteers her old friend, shouting, “Ouiser, this is your chance to do something for your fellow man! Knock her lights out, M’Lynn!”

From tears to chuckling, I was struck by this roller coaster of emotion at the time; the cinematic moment has lived with me ever since.

As the pandemic worsens, and more and more people become affected, I think about the movie and how it so eloquently shows how life is neither up nor down, but often both at the same time.

Sticking at home for a good portion of the year, we’ve wiped many tears in our house with canceled trips back home; postponed birthday parties; holidays with empty chairs; and virtual school with no in-person class. But with the disappointment and sacrifices, there have been blessings in spades.

I’ve never spent so much time with my son and husband. Because of that, 2020 has been a special one filled with precious moments at home: making marvelous homemade meals, putting together puzzles on the dining room table, taking walks around the vineyard, watching movies, making popcorn and plenty of laughter, too.

Humor can help ease the pain during tough times, as the women in “Steel Magnolias” taught me. In fact, Truvy, in her perfect Southern drawl, declares, “Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.”  It makes me want to cry and smile just thinking about it.

Web Design and Web Development by Buildable