Nervous reaction to bad news

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Strontium | 11:40 Fri 03rd Mar 2006 | Body & Soul
8 Answers
I wonder if anybody has any suggestions how I can overcome something that is bothering me.

What it is, I either laugh or smile whenever I hear bad news. The worse the news is, the more likely I am to smile or laugh about it. It's a nervous reaction I know, and I've always done it, but growing up it hasn't really been a massive problem for the simple reason that the younger you are, the less tragic news you receive. Sadly, as you get older, you tend to hear more bad news and it's now making me anxious, which I realise is likely to exacerbate the problem.

My wife is aware of it, but even she says that if I was to smile if something terrible happened to her family, she would hate me for it. Obviously, I can completely understand this. Any ideas on what I should do?


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sorry dont have an answer,but you are not alone,and it is a nervous reaction..i have the same problem.your sad at the news and everyone thinks you dont care because you smile,but it does hurt inside.
i too suffer the same thing, whenever i,m scared or nervous i get this stupid grin on my face, i have been like it since i was a small child, just cant be helped, it something we have to learn to live with, your wife should be more understanding as this is a very common problem.
I do sympathise because I remember when I was still in my late teens that I once laughed when I bumped into a friend who told me his father had just died. I felt so embarrassed because I hadn't known how to react and it was such an inapapropriate reaction. The only advice I can give you is to count to ten (or even twenty) while you muster your emotions together and try to rearrange your facial muscles into a suitable expression.
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Thanks very much everyone. It certainly helps to know I'm not alone...
I had quite a funny experience with this. I was in hospital with a sore foot getting it x-rayed and in the waiting room there were two old ladies who were very very ill and the pair of them were just muttering away, seeming really ill and full of dementia. There was also a man with his toe cut off and he was all bandaged up. Then there was me, sitting there with a sore foot. I got so nervous that all i could do was laugh, I was sitting in this reception room laughing away looking very rude and with no compassion what so ever. I actually felt terrible, inside i felt really sorry for these people but at the time couldn�t control my emotions.
I remember whilst a school a much loved teacher died of cancer, I grinned my biggest grin and giggled but inside I was devastated and did'nt want to cry in front of the whole class, I was as you can imagine disliked for this reaction, I had no control of it. It do still do it sometimes when I don't want to cry but generally just blub away now without embarrassment

the best thing would just be to apologise and explain that its a nervous reaction and you can't always control it, assure them that nothing about the situation is funny and you don't mean to offend. then spend some time consoling them and not smiling.

its a fairly common thing so i assume most people will be aware and understand and be ok about it - lets face it only the most evil and twisted people would genuinely find a death or something funny.

I went to see my pal after a holiday and asked where her kitten was.She then proceeded to tell me she had hunted high and low for it and when she got to the kitchen she saw it going round and round in the washing machine - which was just about on the final spin.

I put my hand over my mouth and said - o no - but burst out laughing.Mortified - I still am.In fairness - she did laugh at me laughing.I know its not the same as what you are speaking about but - it is purely a nervous reaction - but it was also the way she told the story.

I remember reading about a man who was cycling along the road and a turnip fell off a lorry and hit him on the head resulting in him ultimately dying.How can you tell that to people and expect them to keep a straight face.

Its my worst nightmare.I am not being flippant but its a sad fact that we all go but also not in the most dignified manner.

Dont worry - I think the majority of us are tarred with the same brush.

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