Jokes about Suffering

By: Loolwa Khazzoom, Founder, Dancing with Pain

January 18th, 2011 • Living with Chronic PainPrint Print

I like this commitment to blogging every night, no matter what. I was inspired by the movie, Julie and Julia, in which Julie not only blogs every night, but prepares an elaborate meal from a Julia Child recipe beforehand. Hell, if she can do that, I can do this.

Today I was in bed all day, sleeping on and off. When I woke up, I felt better – didn’t have the awful headache, but still felt like thinking was tantamount to walking through sludge. It feels scary, and I’m very angry that I was put on this horrific medication, without any indication that it might have such a serious side effect. What the hell is a medication like this doing on the market??? It is not OK to take risks with our very lives.

Tonight my new friend – the one who was my total hero over the weekend, bringing me food and taking me to urgent care — made a joke about how the Creator might be dumbing me down so I could see what it’s like for Gentiles like him. As I expressed to him in an email, I know he was joking, but when it comes to serious health stuff, especially when I’m in the thick of it and frightened, jokes about my condition are really not funny.

In fact, they make me angry. I don’t understand why someone would make light of a person’s suffering. Doctors do it all the damn time. To me, there is only one appropriate response to suffering, and that is compassion.

Again, I know this person totally cares. I don’t doubt that for a second. Just one sentence later, he was already rattling off some supplements I could take to get my brain back in shape, which I appreciated. But still. When I’m injured and frightened, especially about something like losing the essence of my being, it’s just not funny.


Hayzell January 18th, 2011

Hey Loolwa,
I can completely relate!  It  feels horrible on the receiving side, especially when most of the time all we need is a kind ear to witness and validate our experience. What I’ve come to learn both from experience and my professional background in psychology is that often times people use humor to try and lighten up or even to cope with the emotions that come up.   Friends might not be ready to provide the support that we need, or they might just retreat because actually sharing that pain might be too threatening-  it makes people confront the fact that chronic pain could happen to anyone. Joking seems to a defense mechanism for an uncomfortable situation. Of course this is the case for everyone, but for some.   I hope you don’t take this as me trying to come up with an excuse but rather shine the light on the issue that  we don’t live in a world where there is enough awareness and hence the learning of sensitivity and compassion doesn’t always occur.   I applaud you for sharing and perhaps in this way you,  me, and other people in pain can see we are not alone. It does suck when people joke around about pain.

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