Authority Magazine interviews (author of Embracing Life After Loss) Allen Klein on the subject of grief- how we can heal and learn from it.
Time heals everything. After my wife died, I wondered how I would live without her. Yet I did. The pain of the loss eventually subsided, and life went on.
The world seems to be reeling from one crisis to another. We’ve experienced a global pandemic, economic uncertainty, political and social turmoil. Then there are personal traumas that people are dealing with, such as the loss of a loved one, health issues, unemployment, divorce or the loss of a job.
Coping with change can be traumatic as it often affects every part of our lives.
How do you deal with loss or change in your life? What coping strategies can you use? Do you ignore them and just push through, or do you use specific techniques?
In this series called “5 Things You Need To Heal After a Dramatic Loss Or Life Change” we are interviewing successful people who were able to heal after a difficult life change such as the loss of a loved one, loss of a job, or other personal hardships. We are also talking to Wellness experts, Therapists, and Mental Health Professionals who can share lessons from their experience and research.
As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Allen Klein.
Allen Klein (aka “Mr. Jollytologist”®) shows audiences worldwide how to deal with life’s not-so-funny stuff. He is an award-winning professional speaker, TEDx presenter and author of 30-plus books including, The Healing Power of Humor, The AWE Factor, and Embracing Life After Loss. Comedian Jerry Lewis has said that Klein is “a noble and vital force watching over the human condition.”
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
Born and grew up in New York City where I saw lots of Broadway shows which influenced me in becoming a scenic designer later in life. Seeing live theater, especially musicals, is one of the treats of life that still thrills me today.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
It is one I wrote: “Our attitudes are the crayons that color our world.” It has helped me get through many challenging circumstances and made me realize that I can’t change situations, but I can change my attitude about them.
You have been blessed with much success. In your opinion, what are the top three qualities that you possess that have helped you accomplish so much? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
Passion: Without it I would not have succeeded when others have told me that I can’t do something.
Helping others: I am constantly nourished and honored when I’m told how much I have uplifted someone and changed their life.
Sharing my talent: I am blessed with creative talent which I believe is my duty to share with others.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about ‘Healing after Loss’. Do you feel comfortable sharing with our readers about your dramatic loss or life change?
What was the scariest part of that event? What did you think was the worst thing that could happen to you?
Learning that my young wife had a terminal illness with a prognosis of three years was the worst thing that ever happened to me.
How did you react in the short term?
I didn’t know how I could go on, how I’d be able to raise my daughter alone without my wife.
After the dust settled, what coping mechanisms did you use?
Realizing that I hadn’t lost everything; I still had many things in my life, like my wonderful daughter who brought me great joy.
Can you share with us how you were eventually able to heal and “let go” of the negative aspects of that event?
I counted my blessings instead of my loss. I learned that to want what I no longer had was to waste what I did have.
So I was grateful and treasured all of that.
Aside from letting go, what did you do to create an internal, emotional shift to feel better?
I looked back of all the laughter my wife and I had together and how, even during the years we knew about her terminal illness, laughter helped up rise above our trying situation. I started to write about those moments. Thus began my journey to tell the world about how humor can be an incredible coping tool in dealing with any situation.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to cope and heal? Can you share a story about that?
My young daughter. She and I took a trip to Alaska right after my wife, her mother, died. It was one of the best things I could have done. Our adventure took our minds off what we had been through, helped us bond, and to talk about our positive memories of the person we lost.
Were you able to eventually reframe the consequences and turn it into a positive situation? Can you explain how you did that?
As mentioned above, I did several things:
- I focused on all I still had in my life and not on what I lost. I could count such things as my beautiful daughter, my wonderful friends, my work that I enjoyed and the house I owned.
- I volunteered with a hospice organization to counsel others who were also dealing with grief.
- I wrote about how humor helped ease my loss (The Healing Power of Humor) and how to fully live life again despite that loss (Embracing Life After Loss.)
What did you learn about yourself from this very difficult experience? Can you please explain with a story or example?
The biggest lesson I learned from the loss of my wife was that we never know how long we are going to live. Therefore we need to make the best of the time you are given. Don’t put things off, do it now. And, be kind, compassionate and loving towards others. Love changes everything.
Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experiences and knowledge, what advice would you give others to help them get through a difficult life challenge? What are your “5 Things You Need To Heal After a Dramatic Loss Or Life Change? Please share a story or example for each.
- Time heals everything. After my wife died, I wondered how I would live without her. Yet I did. The pain of the loss eventually subsided, and life went on.
- Lessons to be learned. My wife taught me many lessons…that we are here to play with each other, to be joyful, to enjoy life fully.
- Celebrate a life lived. It is important to mourn a loss but equally important is to celebrate and honor the person who died. The body dies but the spirit lives on.
- Be grateful for what you have. Losing is painful but it can be put in the background. After a loss, write down all you still have in your life for which you are grateful. What I have found is that the more I am grateful for the things in my life, the more things come into my life for which I am grateful,
- Do something for someone else. Helping others can be the quickest way to take your mind off your own problems. I learned this from my aunt, who was the most jovial person I knew. She raised two children on her own and worked full time. But she still had time to bake cookies for someone’s birthday, knit a baby blanket for an expectant mother, or visit an ill friend in the hospital.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
It has been said that you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar. My movement would be to teach everyone, especially in classrooms, about the importance of being kindness.
We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them. 🙂
Woody Allen because he makes me laugh.
Robert Sabuda, expert in pop-up book construction, because of his amazing artistry and skill.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Embracing Life After Loss book: https://tinyurl.com/zv87uarw
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!
A Gentle Guide for Growing through Grief
Work through the depression of grief and loss with resilience: Losing a loved one is never easy. Allen Klein knows how it feels—just like you, he’s lost many loved ones in his life. Inspired by Klein’s experience with the loss of his wife, Embracing Life after Loss will help you to recover from grief and loss—just like Klein did.