This is an excerpt from Embracing Life After Loss: A Gentle Guide for Growing Through Grief by Allen Klein, available on Amazon at

As I started to picture the trees in the storm, the answer began to dawn on me. The trees in the storm don’t try to stand up straight and tall and erect. They allow themselves to bend and be blown with the wind. They understand the power of letting go. Those trees and those branches that try too hard to stand up strong and straight are the ones that break.

—Julia Butterfly Hill, American environmentalist

While writing this book, a friend, who was also a distant relative, passed away. It wasn’t unexpected, since he had been under hospice care for the past few weeks. But it still hurt. It upset me even more because I already had airline tickets and was planning on visiting with him during my trip to New York City. But he had gone before I could get there. His death forced me to let go of my plans and expectations.

The incident made me realize how often in life we have to
let go. For example, at home, our youngsters leave the house for the first time and go off to kindergarten or camp. Let go. Then they go off to college. Let go. Then they get married and permanently move away. Let go.

Then there is the world at work. You don’t get the job or the raise you want. Let go. You are transferred to a new city. Let go. The boss you really like retires. Let go. Or, you retire and no longer have the job you had been doing for perhaps the past thirty to forty years. Let go.

Then there is aging. You can’t walk as far or as fast as you once did. Let go. You can’t see or hear as well as you did previously. Let go.

And, finally, there is death—perhaps the ultimate letting go. Let go.

Allen Klein

Comedian Jerry Lewis has said that Allen Klein is “a noble and vital force watching over the human condition.” Through his books and presentations, Klein shows people worldwide how to use humor to deal with everything from traffic jams to tragedies. Klein got into this unusual line of work after his wife died of a rare liver disease at the age of 34. He saw how humor helped her, and those around her, cope. He also saw how humor helped him get through that loss. He now teaches others how to find some in trying times. Those audiences include people in 48 states as well as Israel and Australia, and clients from IBM to the IRS. Klein is the immediate past-president of The Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor, an international organization with nearly 600 members whose purpose is to advance the understanding and application of humor and laughter for their positive benefits. Klein is also an award-winning speaker and best-selling author as well as the recipient of a Toastmasters Communication and Leadership Award and a Certified Speaking Professional designation from the National Speakers Association. He is also a 2007 inductee into New York City's Hunter College Hall of Fame Klein's first book, The Healing Power of Humor, is now in a 36th printing and ninth foreign language translation. It shows readers how to use humor to deal with everyday trials and tribulations. His second book, The Courage to Laugh: Humor, Hope, and Healing in the Face of Death and Dying, documents how people have used humor to triumph over tragedy. And his most recent book, Learning to Laugh When You Feel Like Crying, shows readers how to embrace life fully again after a loss. It incorporates the five steps of going from loss to laughter: Losing, Learning, Letting Go, Living, and Laughing. He has also authored fourteen other books, including Change Your Life!: A Little Book of Big Ideas, Inspiration for a Lifetime, and, L.A.U.G.H.: Using humor and Laughter to Help Clients Cope. And his writing has appeared in four Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Klein has a master’s degree in humor (from St. Mary's College in Minnesota—and that's no joke!) And he is well suited to his subject. Years before becoming a “Jollytologist”, Klein was nicknamed the “King of Whimsy” because he designed all the children shows at CBS television in New York City. Among those productions was one you probably remember—the Captain Kangaroo show. Although no longer working in the light-hearted world of children, Klein still believes that adults need to take a lesson from them and lighten up.

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