Humor Mitigates Grief 

Source: Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve



Humor can do wonders.

Genuine humour can dissipate anger and dissolve grief.

Here is a story – maybe apocryphal – narrated to me long back by one of my course-mates.

The Executive Officer (XO) of his ship was quite a character.

The XO was a cheerful, jovial, absent-minded guy who was obsessed with solving crossword-puzzles.

His favourite words were: “very good, very good”.

In the Navy – when your senior gave you an order – you said: “aye aye, sir”

And – when your junior made you a report – you said: “very good” 

Now – since the XO received lots of reports – he seemed to have developed the habit of saying: “very good, very good”.

One day – a young Lieutenant – a Divisional Officer – brought a distraught looking sad faced Sailor to see the XO.

It was just after breakfast – and the XO was sitting in the wardroom – busy with his Times of India Crossword Puzzle.

The Divisional Officer gestured towards the Sailor said: “Sir – we have just received a telegram that his mother has passed away.”

Very Good, Very Good…” the XO said instinctively – without even looking up from the newspaper – and he continued with his crossword puzzle.

There was stunned silence.

No one could believe his ears.

The poor sailor had been bereaved – his mother had died – and the XO was saying: “Very Good, Very Good…” 

For some time there was stunned silence – then – after a moment – the absentminded XO paused – and he put down the newspaper.

Then – the XO looked up at the sailor – and the XO said to the sailor:

“What…? Your mother died…? Very Bad, Very Bad…”

Everyone – including the bereaved sailor – burst out laughing.

Though he was quite a character – in his heart – the XO was a most compassionate and genuine man – he was a True Naval Officer of the “old-mould”.

In true Naval Tradition – the XO did everything humanly and administratively possible to help the bereaved sailor – and made all welfare arrangements to enable the sailor to mitigate his personal grief.


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  1. This article is a spoof, satire, pure fiction, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh.
  2. All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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This is a revised version of my article which I had Posted Online Earlier in my Academic and Creative Writing Blog at urls:  and  and  and

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