The Courage to Laugh: Humor, Hope, and Healing in the Face of Death and Dying

Overview

"Life," said George Bernard Shaw, "does not cease to be funny when someone dies, any more than it ceases to be serious when someone laughs." With heartening and amusing examples from a world in which many think there is no laughter, Allen Klein augments the truth of Shaw's insightfulness. Illustrating the inherent importance of the ability to laugh, Klein gives readers the power to face the end of life with dignity and compassion.

Based on the author's years of giving speeches and leading workshops for patients ...

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Overview

"Life," said George Bernard Shaw, "does not cease to be funny when someone dies, any more than it ceases to be serious when someone laughs." With heartening and amusing examples from a world in which many think there is no laughter, Allen Klein augments the truth of Shaw's insightfulness. Illustrating the inherent importance of the ability to laugh, Klein gives readers the power to face the end of life with dignity and compassion.

Based on the author's years of giving speeches and leading workshops for patients and their caregivers and families, The Courage to Laugh will be the first book to:

* show how patients use humor to cope when life is threatened
* offer hope and encouragement to readers dealing with loss
* give readers permission to laugh when they feel like crying
* explain how popular culture can ease death-related fears
* provide uplifting quotes and jokes

With poignant wisdom from children, parents, doctors, and nurses, combined with the spirited writing of the author, The Courage to Laugh is a lifesaving tool for everyone experiencing a serious illness and for the people who care for them.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
After his wife died from a rare liver disease, Klein wrote The Healing Power of Humor, which explained how laughter had helped him recover from her untimely death. Calling himself a "jollytologist," the author, who lectures and leads seminars on humor, enlarges on this earlier theme by presenting a welcome compilation of many personal stories culled from his research into death and dying. These show the important role of laughter as well as tears in the grieving process. Although Klein stresses that humor should not be used to cover up grief, he believes that, for the patient as well as loved ones, appropriate laughter is a refreshing and therapeutic tonic in the face of illness and death. Among the examples he provides are the sustaining power of humor for the terminally ill living in hospices, as well as the amazing capacity of AIDS patients to make jokes that ease their pain ("In my condition, I don't even buy green bananas anymore"). He describes the bravery of very sick children who seek out light moments to help them cope with their disease and includes the experiences of concentration camp survivors who sustained their will to live through humor. Never glib, Klein's affirmations allow a crucial measure of relief for moments of distress, or in the face of loss. Editor, David Groff; agent, Shelley Roth. (Sept.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780874779295
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/28/1998
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 795,348
  • Product dimensions: 5.95 (w) x 8.94 (h) x 0.61 (d)

Meet the Author

Allen Klein is an award-winning professional speaker and author. He lives in San Francisco.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 18, 2001

    A Treasure--for caregivers, students, and you

    Years ago, I learned about the work of Norman Cousins, then editor of 'The Saturday Review.' My late father was a real fan of that magazine and told me about Cousin's then radical ideas about how humor could help healing. His work is covered in his 1979 book, Anatomy of an Illness (Norton). Since then, I've had an interest in humor and how it helps us cope with the trials and tribulations of life. Allen Klein has taken the concept a step further, exploring in great detail how humor helps us cope with death. As I began the book, I read about Klein's experience with the death of his father. Thoughts of my father's death came creeping into my consciousness. Do I want to read this book? I continued reading, and I'm glad I did. This book is a fascinating sociological study of humor and death. It's very well done, so well that the book could qualify as a college textbook as well as a very interesting read . . . and even a valuable guidebook for people working in hospitals, hospices, nursing homes, or caring for a loved one. The organization of The Courage to Laugh was obvious, and made the book easier to read, understand, and absorb. Part I answers the question, 'Is Death Too Serious for Humor?' with four strong background chapters. The second part of the book, Seeing Demise Thru Humorous Eyes, is filled with an amazing collection of wit and understanding from a wide variety of sources. I became so engaged with this material, that I couldn't put the book down. I just kept reading! I also enjoyed the last part of the book, Leave' Em Laughing, that looks at the subject through the eyes of those who are dying. Highly recommended for anyone dealing with death and dying or studying the topic. If you're a student of humor, this book is a treasure.

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