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The Courage To Laugh

Humor, Hope, and Healing In The Face Of Death And Dying

By Allen Klein

Published by Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam
Publication date: September, 1998
215 pp.
ISBN: 0874779294 (soft cover)

Synopsis

This remarkable book is a poignant and inspirational reminder of the life-affirming nature of the human spirit, even under the most difficult circumstances. In the words of cartoon character Roger Rabbit, "Sometimes a laugh is the only weapon we have."

Allen Klein, author of The Healing Power Of Humor, uses a simple and approachable format to share stories of how people faced with death and illness use laughter for many purposes. It can serve as a defense mechanism, a tool for encouragement, a bonding between those in difficult situations, and a reminder that life goes on despite the worst. At its best it is a tool for coping, communicating, and connecting.

Klein makes the point that humor is a two-edged sword with both uses and abuses depending on the situation. When used inappropriately humor can be hurtful and offensive. Many of the stories show, however, that people often err on the side of being too cautious in their use of humor. Sometimes it is the dying and the suffering who help their caregivers lighten up through a well-timed remark, reminding everyone that while down, they are not out.

Healthcare professionals and hospice volunteers will see that humor can be a powerful part of their support toolkit when used judiciously. Caregivers and those affected by serious illness may find it uplifting and encouraging. And those who are suffering a loss may find it a helpful read as they begin to move upward from the very bottom of sadness.

Not just a chronicle of gallows humor, the book's warm and accepting view of human nature makes it a worthwhile addition to the thanatology literature.

Table of Contents

First Words
Part 1: Is Death Too Serious For Humor?
1. Humor and Death: Tasteless or Triumphant?
2. Humor: Hope and Healing
3. Humor: Uses and Abuses
4. Lessons In Laughter
Part 2: Seeing Demise Through Humorous Eyes
5. What's So Funny About Hospitals?
6. Hospice: Serious? Yes. Solemn? No Way!
7. The C Words: Cancer and Comedy
8. AIDS Ain't Funny -- Or Is It?
9. Kids: Great Wisdom From Small Fry
10. Lingering Loss
11. Sudden Loss
Part 3: Leave 'Em Laughing
12. Last Laughs
13. Celebration Of Loss
14. Mirth And Mourning
Final Words
Permissions
Bibliography

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