By Ata Younan
Life After’s Samantha Williams and Director Annie Tippe find levity and laughter through the grieving process.
“During the NYC workshop of Life After, I lost my grandmother. She was not your average knitting, formal, decrepit grandma. One would describe her as fierce, youthful, witty, full of life. To me, she was invincible.
My grandma also loved to smoke weed. Whether it be an edible or a joint, she loved the community of passing it around, laughing with her friends and feeling HIGH. My aunt and I thought it only proper that at her memorial we substitute crusty communion crackers for bright blue sour weed gummies. There were people there from all walks of my grandmother’s life. Old flames, childhood best friends, god daughters, dentists—you name it. If they knew my grandmother, they were there.
As the memorial went on, people began telling funny stories, dancing salsa and just celebrating her life. I could feel her presence through the laughter of my stoned family. We celebrated my grandmother’s life by getting high and I know for a fact she was smiling down at us.”
“Sometimes grief doesn’t just hit after a painful event. Sometimes grief hits in the middle. Knowing your life is about to change, and yet you still have so much of the heavy journey to go. It feels like you’re stuck in a swamp, with no chance to climb out. But even the smallest moment can lift you and remind you of the healing effects of humor.
I spent a LOT of time in the hospital when my father was sick and we dealt with some real “personalities.” Brilliant doctors with at times short tempers or lack of delicate touch. One day, this doctor delivered some particularly difficult news to us, and while I fumed, so frustrated by the lack of tact and sensitivity, my father took a different approach.
He focused on the doctor’s very shiny, perhaps inappropriately formal shoes, which he wore for every consult. My father started to call him “Mr. New Shoes,” which helped break down the doctor’s rather stoic exterior. Eventually he softened, humbled by the very funny dig on his style choices, and found a softer approach. That lightness in my father has stayed with me since; that there’s never a moment where a bit of laughter won’t help.”
Ata Younan is the Publicity Manager for Goodman Theatre.