A Call for More Laughter in Hospice


A belly laugh is a fine thing.  It’s fun and usually free.

Laughter is a reaction. 

It’s an expression of a temporary positive emotional state.

And research has revealed this reaction can start and augment long-term positive emotional states in ourselves and those we are in contact with.

Want an article to get your hospice laughing their heads off? Read 10 Things You Didn’t Learn in Nursing School.

This is especially important for those serving in the hospice industry, as we face unique stresses and demands of serving hospice patients, caregivers, and co-workers.

Our “batteries” get drained, so we must recharge. 

We all know from experience that laughter is contagious and initiates feedback. 

While it starts in the brain, the expression of laughter eventually connects people, and while different things trigger laughter among various cultures, one thing is common:

Laughter in every culture throughout history has been associated with positive emotions and binds us.

While a belly laugh might not be as common as a chuckle or snicker (and they are fine in themselves), the belly laugh is truly a wonderful experience. 

It not only provides all the physical and emotional benefits mentioned above, it also has tremendous social benefits. 

Simply stated, belly laughs provide respite and perspective for the individual and when shared with others. 

There are various studies on types of laughter and one thing is apparent: true laughter is a genuine expression of positivity

True wholesome laughter comes from humor which is tied to one’s perspective.

If the perspective is positive, the results are positive.

It is this type of wholesome laughter the we are talking about here. 

It’s this type of laughter worth encouraging and celebrating. 

As people serving hospice patients and their care givers, we are often in the vortex of dysfunctions. 

  • patients exhibiting fear of the unknown

  • their children squabbling over treatment regimens

  • telemarketers seeking to leach off patient as their home phone rings non-stop

  • co-workers who insist on including us in their problems

  • patients’ residences having uncomfortably high thermostat settings

  • regulations that seem counterproductive

  • cars that are getting older by the day

  • and our own challenges at home

Every day presents itself with conditions that can weigh us down.

If we internalize all and simply try and cope with these challenges, we are cheating ourselves and those we serve.

In contrast, let’s allow ourselves the joy of perspective. 

Let’s seek wholesome humor.

Let’s find the fun and funny in situations. 

Our ability to serve our patients, care givers, and each other is enhanced; and along the way, our personal health is enhanced, and our hospices and homes are fortified.

A quick image to make you smile…guaranteed…who is enjoying the ride most?


Was it those in the first two cars, or those occupying the third car?

Wholesome humor is uplifting. It’s jokes. It’s irony. It’s life.

What has made you laugh on the job lately?

What have you been able to find joy and humor in that could otherwise be taken as a negative experience?

Those who work in the hospice industry, more than anyone know how fickle life is. Let us take a step towards lightheartedness for the good of our patients and for ourselves.

J. Hall C. Thorp

P.S. I couldn’t publish this article without a serious attempt to make every reader laugh.