In Death, Laughter is Allowed!



  1. Paula,
    Your post was so well done that I almost died laughing! Great insights. Thank you..

    1. Thanks, Lee! So glad it gave you a laugh. I’m sure my Dad was laughing right along with you!

  2. Paula, I have just discovered your site and I offer my wholehearted appreciation and support.

    When I was laying my father out, some ten years ago, we lit a sage smudge stick. The window was open but the room filled with smoke astonishingly quickly.

    Suddenly, we realised the smoke alarm could be set off at any second.

    Flapping about manically to disperse the smoke, with a surreal sense of old and new technology colliding – we were collapsing with smothered giggles.

    Everything had been kept so peaceful!
    Everything was perfect.
    My mother was resting happily, leaving us to it.
    And any moment all that peace could be shattered. I was sure even my dead dad was laughing at us.
    Aaaagh! ?
    Thank you for the reminder
    Your whole site and blogs are excellent.
    I am now a maker of bespoke sustainable coffins but I am passionate about raising awareness, and facilitating home death, as well as encouraging families, and particularly children, to be as involved as they can.
    My two year old son taught me more about death than a great many wise and wonderful books.
    I’d like to share your posts as they are compassionate and informative, and the detail makes them so accessible.
    Sincere good wishes.

    1. Thank you Sara! I hope you’ll share the site/posts liberally! I bet your Dad was standing right there laughing too! I will check out your site on bespoke sustainable coffins as I’m about to write about alternative burial options. Thank you for sharing that information!

  3. Paula, as I was reading your post on sitting a deathbed, I decided to look up my favorite Emily Dickinson poem and came across the notes quoted below, written by composer Joshua Shank, discussing Samuel Barber’s musical adaptation of that poem. I love Barber’s sense of humor!

    “Let down the bars, O death” was written in the same summer as the landmark string quartet which eventually yielded the Adagio for Strings, and while that orchestral work went on to become synonymous with grief, its choral sibling is the one of the two that was actually performed at Barber‟s funeral in 1981. Of that event, Gian Carlo Menotti recalled: “He had a wonderful sense of humor, and he loved to shock people with unconventional phrases and actions. He loved good food, and one of his favorite things was a good soup with French croutons sprinkled on. He said: „When I die, please remember I don‟t want flowers, I just want croutons. Get a sack of croutons and sprinkle them over my coffin.‟ That we did. Some friends of his baked some bread and made croutons. I didn‟t have the courage to do it, but as his coffin was lowered three of his friends sprinkled croutons. I could just see Sam laughing.”

    1. Ron, thank you so very much for that wonderful visual of croutons flying onto a coffin! Just another example of letting people know what you want done to celebrate your life and individuality – good for those friends who honored this unique request! And when it comes to our own funerals, anything that is legal should be done without question.

  4. My father hadn’t attended church in 30 years, but mom hired an itinerant Methodist minister to lead his memorial service, for dad’s sibling,s in attendance, were life-long Methodists. She wrote the eulogy to be delivered by this heretofore unknown minister. He did an admirable job, until he came to this line:
    “Doug had a deep love of prunes.”
    I thought, “Whaaat?” Then realized the word was “Puns” not Prunes. The entire front pew of the chapel was shaking with silent laughter. Dad hated prunes! But he did love a good pun. This moment at his memorial nearly qualifies!

    1. Thank you for sharing that funeral humor with us all – PRUNES were the bain of my childhood. My grandmother made us eat 2 stewed prunes every morning when we were visiting. I just remember looking at that brown juice in the bottom of the dish, knowing I couldn’t go play until those dreaded fruits were down my throat. We were all so thrilled when her doctor switched her to 1/2 a banana each morning. I’m glad you all had that moment of laughter, I’m sure it lightened the grief at that moment.

  5. My mom was on hospice at home and to fill some time, my dad decided he’d show his great grandson how to build duck nesting boxes.
    The lumber and supplies he ordered showed up on a flatbed truck about a half hour after mom died.
    Brother Bob looked out the window, shook his head, and said, “I guess I can understand somebody coming home to die… but I didn’t know we had to build the coffin!”

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