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April Fools’ Day – Can’t You Take a Joke?

In a conversation a few years ago, I used the phrase “It’s not brain surgery.” It was in the same spirit as “It’s not rocket science.”

The woman proceeded to lecture me on the fact that some people really have actual true life brain surgery and that I was being utterly insensitive to those struggling with this trial. I kind of know this, because one of my dear friends died of brain cancer, but never mind that.

I could also point out that some people have been fired from “rocket science” jobs and also might be sensitive to that phrase. So, in the spirit of April Fool’s Day, please refrain from any references to brain surgery and/or rocket science.

April Fools' Day - Can't You Take a Joke?

Earlier today I saw an insensitive prankster post that he was engaged — even though all his friends knew he wasn’t dating anyone at all, let alone seriously. Apparently he is unaware that there are actual, living, breathing people who want to be engaged but aren’t. This gesture probably sucked their guts out. 

Today a young friend of mine started a rumor that it was her birthday. Gullibly I wished her much joy, elation, and happiness — only to find I had been punked. Not only was I irreparably harmed by this shameless self-promotion, but think of all those people who were born on the unfortunate February 29th! They want to have a birthday every year, but they can’t. (And we won’t even get into the issues with orphans left on doorsteps and child refugees who don’t even know their birthdays at all!)

Tiptoeing through the endless suffering and strife of people is an exhausting but essential act we all must undertake in the name of humanity. And showing that we care more than anyone else.

For the past two days, I’ve seen an endless parade of images on social media, advising against more hurt and pain. The general theme is this:

Please don’t make pregnancy a joke on April 1st.

For those on the journey of infertility or loss, pretend pregnancy announcements can be hurtful.

In the midst of my five miscarriages I joined an online support group for those who had the sad experience of enduring multiple miscarriages. Ultimately I left the group. It wasn’t about healing and learning to be happy in spite of really awful stuff that no one wants to deal with. Rather, it was about (to be honest) wallowing in the same sorrows over and over again.

It wasn’t just new people joining, being lifted by those who had worked through their grief. It was an enormous mass pity party. every. single. day. No one was giving sound advice on how to recover. Everyone was just weeping endlessly. It was not healthy.

Sometimes having a huge cry is good. Perhaps even days and months of huge cries. But then we change. We find good in the world. We see ways to grow or serve from our pain.
Sometimes the best medicine is rejoicing for other’s good fortune (even when we want it for ourselves) and being able to laugh at things (even though there is a personal element). And sometimes it even means allowing other people to joke around about the subject that is near to your heart.

No kidding.

{ 4 comments… add one }

  • Oregonian April 1, 2014, 1:33 pm

    i agree with this so much. i just get so tired of people who have to make their persona pain (we all have personal pain) the ruling factor for all human behavior. get over yourselves already.

  • G. G. April 1, 2014, 6:00 pm

    I certainly don’t wish to be hostile, but this is pretty harsh considering the severity of the problem. It’s nice to know that you’ve moved on, it truly is, but there are people learning that their dear children won’t get to grow up on this very day. Should they move on straight away for the sake of a joke that isn’t even remotely funny?

    I’m not asking for anyone to tiptoe around people’s sensitivities, I’m only asking why it’s perfectly acceptable to joke about matters that are serious because of the number on the calender. Would you say “hey, I have brain cancer!” for the sake of an April Fool’s joke? I seriously doubt it. Why is there a line between one serious medical issue and another?

  • Alison Moore Smith April 2, 2014, 12:30 am

    It’s perfectly acceptable to joke about things that are serious, because EVERYTHING is serious to someone. And if we start dictating what events can be joked about based on general pain, there is nothing left.

    As for the “Hey, I have brain cancer” idea, you’ll notice that the jokes I referred to were (1) generally positive, happy things (being pregnant, getting engaged) and (2) were about themselves (not someone else).

    Why would it be OK for someone to announce a real pregnancy but not a fake one? How is a pretend pregnancy hurtful to someone else?
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Amazing Life Hacks: 5 Thinking-Outside-the-Box Goal Setting IdeasMy Profile

  • Paul April 2, 2014, 9:06 am

    Wish I had seen this yesterday so I could have linked to it on Facebook about a thousand times. The fake “sensitivity” is so stultifying.

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