Laughter Is The Tonic

Charlie Chaplin once said “Laughter is the tonic, the relief, the surcease for pain.”. I assume he did so via a caption as all the films I saw him in he was inaudible!

Despite everything, it is a mantra we as a family try to live by as much as possible. There are times when achieving a chuckle isn’t possible or even appropriate. However, when it is I can endorse its therapeutic qualities.

Living with incurable cancer is of course terrible circumstances for my wife Karen to endure. The sword she lives with is that of Damocles, not an Excalibur which could magically transform her life back to before 2010 when she was cancer free…… Although hopefully not as far back to Arthurian times.



Despite the ever presence of Damocles’ sabre, we thankfully manage many light hearted discussions in chez Strachan. During this last five and a half challenging years, it has been a godsend that our home has not been without mirth, teasing and downright silliness.

This has proved an effective outlet, in particular giving us temporary respite from the stench of the rancid disease that taunts us daily.

Veering from the avenues of the morose and melancholy isn’t always possible. However, when we do the laughter momentarily removes that seemingly constant weight we’ve borne for over half a decade.

Yesterday was a perfect example of this, when Karen and I embarked on a darkly humourous chat on the taboo subject of funerals, in particular preparing your last wishes.

The catalyst for this discussion was an article titled ‘Do We Need A Lavish Funeral’, that Karen had read earlier in the day. This piece had the author of ‘The Good Funeral Guide’ and manager of the Natural Death Centre advocating differing views on the subject.

The author believed that a funeral should be lavish, celebrating the deceased’s thirst for life (if appropriate). He also opined that the ceremony should be a cathartic time, not where a stiff upper lip hides the true emotions of the grieving.

On the flip side, the manager said she believed that all hearing aids should be free. Unfortunately, the magazine had enlisted the manager of the Natural Deaf Centre not the National Death Centre in error.

Despite this, she did advocate the cheaper version of funeral. A Poundshop version where you pick up the body from the hospital, propping it in front of the TV to watch Corrie, while you order a coffin online. Then take the body to the ceremony yourself in your estate car or in your mate Frank the plumber’s van.

During Karen and my discussion about this article, my wee spouse advised me that she was veering towards choosing an eco friendly wicker basket coffin. At that point, all I could picture was someone being carried into the funeral service in an oversized linen basket!

As the basket passed down the aisle, people would slightly lift the lid of the coffin and throw in their dirty sock, t-shirts and undies. This vision led me to immediately try talk my missus out of the idea.

She agreed to revisit this thought, before asking me how I wanted to go, cremation or burial. As I was struggling to make my mind up, I floated the idea of me having two ceremonies. One service where my top half would be cremated and the other a burial for my bottom half.

After Karen dismissing that as unfeasible, I hit on the idea of being cremated with my wine collection…… That way it would be more of a flambé than the normal cremation.

Flambeing of the culinary kind


Karen laughed heartily at this thought…… Well at least one person found it funny, anyway!

With that, I left her chuckling to herself in the dining area while I wandered into the kitchen to prepare the vegetables for Sunday dinner.

Some might say the subject matter of this blog is in bad taste. However, trust me when I say the dark humour is a great distraction for my family, including Karen. If she disapproved of the topic in any shape or form I wouldn’t post it, simple as that.

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