Allen KleinThe Jollytologist®

Learning to Laugh When
You Feel Like Crying

change your life - a little book of big ideas


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Learning to Laugh When You Feel Like Crying: Embracing Life After Loss
by Allen Klein
Foreword by Earl A. Grollman
Paperback, 224 Pages
Goodman Beck Publishing

Book Summary:

Learning to Laugh When You Feel Like Crying: Embracing Life After Loss accomplishes just that in an easy-to-digest, warm, and highly-accessible format.

Anyone who has experienced the loss of a loved one can greatly benefit from this book, which was inspired firsthand by the loss of author Allen Klein's wife. Klein addresses the subject with expert awareness and wisdom and breaks it down into five sensible and encouraging steps: losing, learning, letting go, living, and laughing.

The book is a steadfast compass that offers hope and resilience to anyone trying to navigate through dark times.



Step One

If you believe yourself unfortunate,
because you have loved and lost,
perish the thought. One who has
loved truly, can never lose entirely.

- Napoleon Hill, American author

Losing a loved one is not easy. I know - I have had many losses in my life. The one that made the most impact on my life was my wife's death when she was 34. In addition, my mother, my father, my four grandparents, my sister-in-law, several cousins, and both my mother-in-law and father-in-law have died, as well as over 40 friends and colleagues who are no longer here because of AIDS or cancer.

I don't think we ever forget the people we lose. So in some sense, they are never gone. But, still, it hurts not to be able to see them, hear them, or hold them again.

Loss hurts. But it can also help us be stronger, wiser, and, if nothing else, more appreciative of every moment we have on this earth.

Step Two

Turn your wounds into wisdom

- Oprah Winfrey, American television host

Every time you lose something, you are presented with an opportunity to acquire something new. With each loss, there is a golden opportunity for a new beginning. You may not realize it right now, but your loss is part of your growth process. In fact, your loss can be seen as a gift.

How could you possibly even think of loss as a gift? You have lost someone who was very dear to you. You have perhaps lost the one person in your life who meant everything to you. You have lost a significant part of who you were. It certainly doesn't feel like a gift. And yet, it is.

Your loss is serving you. It is helping you examine who you are, why you are on this earth, and how to live your life.
Among other things, your loss has given you:
  • the gift of appreciating life more fully
  • the gift of cleansing through mourning
  • the gift of love
The best thing you can do after reading this is to open the gift.

Step Three
Letting Go

The longer we dwell on our misfortunes,
the greater is their power to harm us.

- Voltaire, French philosopher

Crying is the body's way of dealing with loss. It is unhealthy to squelch your tears. What you stifle today may come back in greater force tomorrow. But continuing to endlessly wallow in those tears is not healthy. At some point, you need to get on with your life.

Today might be the day to take the first step, to let go, to move on.

Step Four

I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness,
immobilized by the gravity of my loss,
or I can choose to rise from the pain
and treasure the most precious gift I have — life itself.

- Walter Anderson, American magazine editor

The loss of someone close to you provides an opportunity for a new beginning and an enriched life. Once you start to work through your grief process, you can begin to fill the vacuum that was created by your loss with an even fuller sense of life.
Ultimately, in dealing with a loss, the choice is yours. No matter what the situation, you have a choice of how you react to it. You can remain in your grief and turn your face away from life or you can move on and embrace life.

Choose life.

Step Five

Tragedy and comedy are but two aspects
of what is real, and whether we see the tragic
or the humorous is a matter of perspective.

- Arnold Beisser, American polio-disabled author

It may seem ludicrous putting laughter and loss in the same sentence. How can you possibly laugh after losing a loved one? Yet recent research by Dacher Keltner and George A. Bonanno shows that "the more widows and widowers laughed and smiled during the early months after their spouse's death, the better their mental health was over the first two years of bereavement."

Laughter is a great coping mechanism. Finding the humor in anything and laughing about it gives you a break from the pain of loss. It allows for a breath of fresh air at a time when everything seems dark and heavy.

Many of the world’s top comedians intuitively knew this when they experienced a major loss in their life. They turned to humor to cope and eventually perfected their craft and made comedy their career. Your goal is probably not to become a stand-up comic, but you can take a lesson from these renowned comedians and use humor and laughter to help you to cope with your loss.

Laughter and humor are one of God’s gifts to overcome your trials and tribulations.



“If life sometimes feels like a bucket full of small dark stones, Allen Klein's insights are like bright pennies waiting to be found. This collection of brief sermons on grief and recovery can help turn fear into forgiveness, wounds into wisdom and losses into laughter.”

- Stephen Kiernan, author, Last Rights

“Raising Lazarus from the dead is less miraculous than raising ourselves from the loss of a loved one. Allen Klein, invoking his decades of experience 'lightening the load of grief' offers an unexpected grace, a slight levitation of the heart, into the healing process.”

- Stephen Kiernan, author, A Year to Live

“This book is a wonderful companion in your darkest hours. It feels like a warm, nourishing hug from a dear and loving friend. It will soothe your heart and warm your soul. It will help you to find that sacred place within you that is never lost and never changes... your spiritual heart, your soul, which can be gracefully awakened through the mystical, transformational, holy experience of laughter.”

- John E. Welshons, author, When Prayers Aren't Answered

“ Like a dear friend, this beautiful book takes us by the hand and walks us through the stages of loss and recovery. Allen Klein has inspired us all to define ourselves, not by our grief, but by our joy.”

- Susan Sparks, Pastor, author, Laugh Your Way to Grace

“ With great love and humor, Allen Klein shares his wisdom, wisdom which shows us the path to healing the wounds uncovered by our grief, wisdom that he has clearly earned through his own deep practice. He walks the walk. We are all grieving. Allen shows us the way, as Rumi says, to use grief as the garden of compassion.”

- Dale Borglum, Executive Director of the Living/Dying Project

“ Klein has written a poignant and easily readable guide to the grieving process based on his personal and professional experiences. Grieving people will find some solace and professionals will gain insight from someone who has been on both sides of grieving and helping the bereaved.”

- Stephen R. Connor, author, Hospice and Palliative Care: The Essential Guide

“ As a hospital chaplain I witnessed the unwelcome burden that grief added to a person’s life. In his book, Allen Klein gives a realistic and sensitive vision that will sustain the hope necessary for grief’s journey.”

- E. T. (CY) Eberhart, author of In the Presence of Humor

“ Whew...what a book! Allen sings a simple song: embrace life, remember the joy, and find gratitude in knowing you have been loved.”

- Darcie D. Sims, Director, American Grief Academy® and Grief Inc.

Learning to Laugh When You Feel Like Crying is a great gift to bereaved individuals. Klein offers sound wisdom, based on experience. He speaks here from the heart... with both humor and compassion.”

- Kenneth J. Doka, Consultant, The Hospice Foundation of America

“Allen Klein’s new book, Learning to Laugh when You Feel like Crying is touching, informative and heartwarming. Allen's ability to find the perfect quotations over the years adds to the lovely journaling in this treasure. A must for anyone and everyone!”

- Ester Leutenberg, co-author, GriefWork; Healing from Loss

“This is an easy-to-read, compassionate and useful book for dealing with loss and grief. Allen Klein addresses different aspects of the grieving process, all of which speak to the heart of what it is to deal with and recover from loss. This is a wonderful addition to the current literature on grief, and would make a wonderful condolence gift.”

- Judy Tatelbaum, author,The Courage to Grieve

“Allen Klein shows his readers how to find the joy and laughter that continues even after the loss of a loved one. Read this book and begin your own transformation from grief to joy.”

- Nancy Weil, Director of Bereavement Support, Catholic Cemeteries

“Allen Klein has just written the handbook on how to cope with suffering. This book has all the tools you need to bounce back from loss of any kind.”

- Steve Rizzo, author, Becoming A Humor Being

“Allen Klein has such a beautiful perspective! His book is an important, authentic, and liberating look at how we can move through loss with compassion, humor, and peace. If you're dealing with a loss of any kind, this book will support you in your journey.”

- Mike Robbins, author, Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken

“Allen Klein is a counselor, a philosopher, a theologian. His pain, from losing his young wife, and his healing, from moving beyond her death, are evident in every word he writes. In easy-to-take doses, he offers practical advice on seeing the light in the darkest of times. He shares the secret that survivors — of everything from cancer to the Holocaust — have learned.”

- Steve Lipman, author, Laughter in Hell

©2023 by Allen Klein. All Rights Reserved.