I lost my close friend, Jim, to suicide in 2005. Instead of succumbing to the devastating pain, grief and guilt surrounding his death, I embarked on a journey of introspection, self-healing and giving to the community.
As a self-proclaimed Giggle Coach, I am on a crusade to help people reclaim joy in their lives, or, as I say, get their Giggle On! In 2008, I created the web site GiggleOn.com as a tribute to my departed friend, Jim. I was looking for a positive outlet to honor him and our friendship, to cope with my pain, tell my story and deliver my Don’t Give Up! Giggle On message of resiliency and laughter. Giving back to the community in this way gives me a reason to keep going and it also helped me regain a zest for life when I had little will to live.
Once I decided not to follow in my friend’s footsteps and take my own life, I set out on a crusade to honor Jim’s memory, reduce the stigma associated with mental illness and suicide, support others who lost a loved one to suicide, teach people how to laugh for no reason and help raise money for charities related to mental health and suicide prevention.
My mission is ambitious, bold and to some, unorthodox. Suicide and depression are the polar opposites of hope and laughter. The road to recovery, whether from grief or a loved one by suicide or some other means is usually not spent in fits of hysterical laughter. But there comes a point where we give ourselves permission to smile and laugh. I tell people reclaiming the “giggle” in their lives is the first step in the process of embracing full blown laughter. The giggle is an expression of joy and the way love manifests in our lives. I believe my friend Jim, if here today in the flesh, would want me to laugh and live life to the fullest.
Laughter, humor and playfulness are not used to cover up the pain of loss, depression or stress. Laughter is used to transcend the pain, lift our spirits, exercise our bodies & relax our minds.
I help people in the Delaware area find lost giggles using Laughter Yoga. I also give back to the community as a co-facilitator for the Delaware Support Group for Survivors of Suicide Loss and this October 25, 2009 I will lead Team Giggle On in the E-Racing the Blues charity walk benefitting the Mental Health Association in Delaware. The E-Racing the Blues Event highlights the importance of walking and exercise as ways to help relieve symptoms of depression, reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol, release tension in muscles and positively affects the same neurotransmitters that anti-depressant medications target.
As the 4-year anniversary of my friend’s death approaches this month, I spend less time grieving and more time giving and giggling. My friend made a choice to end his life and I made the choice to stay on the planet, give-back and Giggle On!Tags: anger, Depression, grief, hope