You’ve likely heard the phrase “dying from laughter”—but have you ever known anyone to actually do that? Die … from laughter?

That would take a lot of laughing.

Or in the case of my father, trying to breathe while laughing.

Today is my dad’s birthday so I thought I’d highlight one of my favorite things about him—he has a hard time laughing.


He passes out.

I vaguely remember the time it first happened. I was young and I remember my dad passing out and hitting the ground, my mom in a panic not sure what to do, banging on his chest and yelling his name.

Over the years, we have learned that my dad has a hard time breathing in intense times of laughter. If something is funny, he will laugh for a moment, but then suddenly is unable to breathe, his eyes get big, and he hits the ground. Eventually, his body resets and he is fine, though it was a bit scary at first.

As a kid, I figured out how to egg him on, to push the boundary, and flirt with his fainting. I found great delight in it. My parents didn’t find it so funny (yes, pun intended).

I have several delightful memories of laughing with my dad—well, me laughing and my dad trying to.

I love to laugh and over the years I’ve discovered I have a variety of types: big belly guffaws, awkward chuckles, and my go-to staccato laugh (which almost sounds like a machine gun).

The Bible talks a lot about joy and laughter. And my dad IS a joyful guy, he just has a difficult time expressing it through laughter. He smiles a lot and gives my favorite high-pitch-kid-voice declaration: “funny, funny, ha, ha, ha” … but he just can’t laugh. 

No. I’ve never heard of anyone actually dying from laughter. Though of all the ways to die, it might be a good one if we could choose—going out with a bang, full of joy, and a smile on our face.

I have thought, if someone were to actually die from laughing, it might literally be my dad.

But today is his birthday, and I love him dearly, so rather than dying from laughter—dad, why don’t you let me do the laughing today?!

It is still true that “a joyful heart is good medicine” (Proverbs 17:22 ESV) … whether or not we can actually laugh.

• • •

Know I am cheering you ever deeper into Jesus—the fullness of our joy (Psalm 16:11).

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