Gallows Humor: You Get a Pass. You Have Skin in the Game

powerphrase icon2Have you heard about nurses’ humor? Nurses are known to make jokes that much of the rest of the population would deem unfeeling and inappropriate. It’s a coping and bonding mechanism. I know about nurses’ humor because I married a nurse. If I didn’t know how big his heart is, I might think him heartless at times.

Nurses’ humor isn’t in Wikipedia, but gallows humor is. Here’s what they say.  

“A type of humor that still manages to be funny in the face of, and in response to, a hopeless situation. Gallows humor is made by the person affected by the dramatic situation, an aspect that is missing in the derivative called black comedy.”

During the Waldo Canyon Fire Evacuation, I heard a lot of gallows humor from a number of people. One particular comment clearly didn’t land well on the ears of everyone in the room. The man who made the comment apologized. I assured him,

  • You get a pass. You have skin in the game.

I was glad to be able to think to say that so quickly. Trust me – the right words don’t always pour from my lips on the spot. But that phrase had the effect I wanted. It acknowledged the fact that the man who spoke had good reason to believe he had lost his home, and that some others might think it inappropriate.

It was an awkward moment among many during the Waldo Canyon Fire evacuation,. But we all get a pass for anything we said or did in those days of hanging in contingency. We all had skin in the game. 

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