Humor Saves The Day From Loss with Allen Klein

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Everyone has their own unique way of grieving loss. Klein says, "I believe loss is a gift; from every loss we learn. We learn, if nothing else, how precious life is. We need to appreciate what we have right now." He speaks from the experience of losing his 34 year old wife, Ellen, to a rare terminal illness leaving him with a 12 year old daughter. Ellen's death triggered a deeply personal inquiry. He asked himself such questions as: What is death? Why do people die? Why did this happen to me? Even after her death, Klein felt Ellen's guidance in finding his "true work." Her humor survives and continues to encourage him in the work he does today, therapeutic humor. Klein says, "Grieving is very important, but also, I don't think we give enough credit to finding the humor." He also points out how deep listening is important in being with those who are in bereavement. (hosted by Justine Willis Toms)


Allen Klein is the former Director of Life and Death Transitions in San Francisco. He's a recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor.

He's the author of many books including:

To learn more about the work of Allen Klein go to

Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • How humor gives us reprieve from difficult situations
  • What is the secret of long term relationship
  • What is the best thing you can do in being with someone who is in grief
  • How loss can teach us about the preciousness of life
  • Why forgiveness can be one of the greatest things one can do after a loss
  • Why is smiling such a magical thing to do

Host: Justine Willis Toms    Interview Date: 12/17/2011    Program Number: 3422

Music Playlist

From Album: Fingerdance
Artist: Billy McLaughlin
1996 Narada #ND-61058

Opening Essay: Track 02 Hurricane Bob
Music Break 1: Track 01 Fingerdance
Music Break 2: Track 03 Helms Place
Music Break 3: Track 06 While She Sleeps