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12 lessons from Hospice Laughter Groups

I have facilitated many laughter workshops for hospices over the years including at The Kirkwood in Huddersfield, Overgate in Halifax and Wheatfields in Leeds.

And staff also enjoyed a session at Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice in Huddersfield.

Of course, there are many lessons I take from these laughter groups but here are my top 12.

  1. Laughter isn’t always about the health benefits but about having a jolly good play.
  2. “I’m past caring how silly I look!”
  3. Laughter reminds us of our aliveness.
  4. It’s often the quiet ones that most surprise you!
  5. When time is at a premium and each breath precious using that breath to laugh, love and forgive is soul enriching and can lead to a more peaceful death.
  6. Whatever stage we are at in our illness and whatever our physical capabilities laughter is always just a smile and breath away.
  7. When we can’t laugh on the outside and laughter on the inside is just too difficult we can allow the laughter of others to reach our eardrums and just lean in to that.
  8. You never know what shenanigans will evolve in the session.
  9. The laughter gently drifts through the corridors and rooms for others to hear.
  10. Laughter can also remind us of precious, joyful memories that we may have forgotten or cast aside in times of stress. In some cases, it might simply remind us where we left our slippers!
  11. Laughing with those who have had a life shortening diagnosis is equally life-enhancing for me too.
  12. I, as their laughter facilitator, am their eternal student. The participants teach me many, many things not least what it means to make the most of each moment.

Although my in-person hospice laughter groups remain on pause I have facilitated some over zoom and, despite having a slightly different feel to them, they remain a hugely positive experience for both attendees and myself. Hopefully I will be facilitating these laughter groups in-person again in the not-too-distant future.

My experience running these groups led me to develop a CPD training for other laughter professionals which sadly had to be cancelled due to lockdown but will hopefully return when hospices once more allow groups to be facilitated so participants can put their new skills straight to use.


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