Mourning a difficult family member is complicated. When my  mother died a few years ago our deeply troubled relationship took center stage in the grieving process.  I have struggled with how her death should be discussed, if at all. The strangeness of the loss, the misunderstandings of the (dis)comforters that inevitably tell a story of their own grief, and the desire to say “but it’s a relief for both of us” have made me curious about how others handle the death of a difficult loved one.

Comedic Relief for Grief

And then it occurred to me that touchy relationships have traditionally been great comedic topics, so I went looking for laughs on the subject. And boy, I found plenty. But I also found an incredibly rich landscape of conversations on death from a variety of perspectives that made me feel a lot less alone. I hope these gems work for you too.

Laurie Kilmartin’s Dark Humor

Laurie Kilmartin’s “45 Jokes about My Dead Dad” is a controversial take on the death of a parent and not for anyone that finds shame in dark humor or believes forgiveness is the only route to healing from bad relationships. I laughed out loud at this bit – not because I’m not sad at the loss of my mother or her suffering, but mostly because it rang true with my internal dialogue. It was a relief to hear someone else say things out loud about the death of a difficult loved one that I have said to myself over and over.  Kilmartin’s routine reminded me of the humanness of our predicaments and that sometimes, in spite of all our efforts to fix broken situations, we simply have to accept them for what they are.

“It is tough to lose a parent. It’s even tougher if you were hoping to lose the other parent first. My mom is a pistol…in that that’s what you want to put in your mouth when she talks to you…a loaded pistol. I’m not the only one that feels that way, my dad’s last words to me were “haha she’s your problem now,” and then he ascended to heaven like a conquistador.”

If dark humor is something you enjoy, this one’s for you! Check out Funny Obituaries and Finding Humor in Grief for more laughs!

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