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

Allen Klein, Author Putnam Publishing Group $15.95 (215p) ISBN 978-0-87477-929-5
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.)
Reviewed on: 08/24/1998
Release date: 08/01/1998
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 431 pages - 978-0-7862-5991-5
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