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Kerry Siggins female leadership development coach


Heart To Heart: From One Griever to Another: In My Sorrow I Found Joy

Jun 1, 2023

Dear Grieving Heart,

Next to my husband Dan, my dad was my second-best friend.  When told that dad had six months to a year to live, the news tore my soul.  I silently suffered anticipatory grief.  Even though I was trained as an end-of-life doula a year prior, I was not prepared to practice on dad everything that I had learned. I went to my hometown on Valentine’s Day to care for dad while on hospice.  Dad died from prostate cancer in April of 2020.  I thought I would never laugh again.  Losing dad at the beginning of a devastating pandemic did not help.  The loneliness and isolation from family and friends left me numb.  At the time, I knew little to nothing about Yoga.  Curious if it would help, I started watching videos.  To everyone’s surprise, I ended up taking Yoga teacher training to learn the philosophy and methodology behind Yoga.  During the training, I was required to experience a variety of Yoga classes.  One of the practices that resonated with me was Grief Yoga.  I took Paul Denniston’s virtual Grief Movement training and learned to release that which was suppressed by using movement, breath, and sound.

At the end of that year, I attended a Zoom meeting where the speaker delivered a presentation called “Laughter Yoga.” I was intrigued by the group interaction and robust laughter coupled with childlike playfulness.  Marlene, the presenter, used no jokes, comedy, or drama.  Believe it or not, as in any skilled profession, there is a basic laughter course, a certified leader’s course, and a certified teacher’s course to name a few.  The joy I felt in my heart inspired me to enroll in Basic Laughter Yoga training and by Valentine’s Day of 2022, I became a Certified Laughter Yoga Leader.

We often react to loss with anger, guilt, or sadness.  These are a few of the emotions caused by grief.  This is normal, especially in early grief.  While laughter might not be considered the prescription of choice, here is how laughter helped me to turn my sorrow into joy.  Dad loved to tell jokes, share magic card tricks, and entertain everyone with his disappearing coins.  He knew no strangers.  Part of a laughter Yoga session is a laughter meditation whereby all the participants laugh for one minute.  Of course, you are prompted to think about the last time you laughed so hard that you couldn’t stop and to relive that experience.  I have delivered numerous laughter Yoga sessions and each time, I think of my dad and the silly jokes he repeatedly told me.  Each time I would laugh as if it was the first time that I heard his joke.  The spirit of my father is present during all my laughter sessions.  While I still have an occasional grief burst, my tears have been replaced with laughter.  I greet a photo of his smiling face every day and this has helped me to keep his memory present and alive within my heart.

While you may feel conflicting emotions between grief and laughter, know that the benefits of laughter are many.  Give yourself permission to laugh when your mind and body are ready.  Laughter will increase your endorphins, strengthen your immune system, improve your mood even during difficult times, increase your sense of well-being, enhance your mental health, inspire joy, stimulate your lungs, and lessen your stress.  Consider laughing with someone as group laughter is contagious.  Physiologically, your body does not know if your laughter is fake or real. You will reap the same benefits.  When you feel sad, take a couple of deep breaths, close your eyes, and think about a time when you laughed with your loved one.  May the joyful memory that you shared provide you with comfort in that moment and leave you with a gentle smile.

This past April, I became a Certified Laughter Yoga Teacher.  Little did I know that three years after my father’s passing, I would be prepared to teach others to inspire laughter among others.  I laugh as a tribute to my dad.  I wish to thank the HeartLight Center for the opportunity to deliver a laughter yoga session to their followers.  Just as the flame in their name has shined a light to those who are grieving, so too has laughter sparked a light deep within my soul.  My hope is that you open your heart to the possibilities of laughter.  I truly believe that laughter heals the heart.

With gratitude,




Written by: Eileen Wolfington
May 2023