I received an email the other day from someone subscribed to our weekly newsletter. Earlier that day, I had sent our most recent article –– one about how a woman ultimately healed and transformed her life to honor her father’s legacy, a full decade after he passed somewhat unexpectedly.
The email I got said something that gets me out of bed every single morning:
“Thank you for ending this. It helps to know I’m not alone in this.”
It’s one of primary feelings those who have lost someone close have: loneliness. And yet, every single one of us either have been through something incredibly similar, or will go through it.
In fact, every single person who has ever lived and every single person who will ever be has and will experience loss –– both that of their loved ones, and then, their own.
For such a lonely place to be, grief is universal. It is part of the deal of life. There is no escaping it. There is no ignoring it. There is only assurance that it will come for you, too.
But grief isn’t a bad thing. It and it’s more active cousin, mourning, transform our brains and thus our world. We:
Create new connections
See things in a different light
Appreciate more of the present
Become, if only for a while, those kinds of people who take everything as a sign from a higher power or source.
And that is ultimately a good thing. Because life is fleeting.
Still, the loneliness persists. So for those who are in the grips of grief’s loneliness, let the following quotes about grief, about mourning, and about the experience of deep loss help you to reconnect to this essential experience.
You aren’t alone in this. You have the support and empathy of everyone who was, is, or will be.
4 Grief Quotes That Have Helped People Get Through Tough Times
Some of the follow grief quotes are said by famous folks you know. Others are just mantras by business professionals who use these words to help cope with grief and mourning.
In other words, these are the quotes and tidbits that helps folks like you through the day. These are important because while tons and tons of famous folks from William Shakespeare to Queens have well-known quotes about grief, it is those that actually help and fuel our soul that we need to read.
What better than those quotes as recommended by regular folks, who have been there, are there, and will continue to frequent the depths of loss with less loneliness and more positivity as time passes?
“To pass through this brief life as nature demands. To give it up without complaint. Like an olive that ripens and falls. Praising its mother, thanking the tree it grew on.” - Marcus Aurelius
I like stoic philosophy in general, and I like Marcus Aurelius's Meditations in specific. Here's a quote I like about death from Meditations that has helped me through moments of grief.
"Don't let yourself forget how many doctors have died, after furrowing their brows over how many deathbeds. How many astrologers, after pompous forecasts about others' ends. How many philosophers, after endless disquisitions on death and immortality. How many warriors, after inflicting thousands of casualties themselves. How many tyrants, after abusing the power of life and death atrociously, as if they were themselves immortal.
How many whole cities have met their end: Helike, Pompeii, Herculaneum, and countless others.
And all the ones you know yourself, one after another. One who laid out for another burial, and was buried himself, and then the man who buried him - all in the same short space of time.
In short, know this: Human lives are brief and trivial. Yesterday a blob of semen; tomorrow embalming fluid, ash.
To pass through this brief life as nature demands. To give it up without complaint.
Like an olive that ripens and falls.
Praising its mother, thanking the tree it grew on."
“I heal my past by living in the present." - Personal Mantra
I've personally dealt with a lot of grief. I grew up in a town where drugs were rampant. Then, I joined the military. Then I became and entrepreneur and have lost several friends to suicide.
For me, no mantra has meant more than reminding myself that, "I heal my past by living in the present."
– Eric Carlson, Eric Carlson, Co-Founder, 10xFactory
"To meet Triumph and Disaster, and to greet these two imposters the same." - Rudyard Kipling
It took me years and years to understand the wisdom of this saying by Rudyard Kipling: “To meet Triumph and Disaster, and to greet these two imposters the same."
It took me years to realize the wisdom of that statement -- that the things you think are amazingly great aren't really all that great and that the disasters you think are going to end everything aren't that big a deal either. Wow.
– Jaime Turner, Jamie Turner, CEO, 60 Second Marketer
“Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.” - Anonymous
My hardest loss in recent memory involved the untimely death of my furry best friend. The Rainbow Bridge poem helped me to refocus my perspective in terms of looking forward to seeing my fur baby in the future instead of constantly drowning in grief.
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....
– Maddy Osman, Maddy Osman, SEO Content Strategist, The Blogsmith
31+ Famous Quotes About Grief That Have Helped People
The following quotes about grief are some of the most popular on the web –– and for good reason. They bring solace. They bring hope. They reflect exactly what you are feeling.
These are the grief quotes that can help cure loneliness, or bring a different perspective to your mourning you may not have yet explored.
Use these at funerals.
Meditate on them.
Use them as writing prompts in your grief journaling.
Whatever you do, use them to remember the bond you had, the memories you shared, and know that even though they are gone, those experiences are not. Life was lived, and that is beautiful.
"Love is really the only thing we can possess, keep with us, and take with us." –– Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross was the author of the groundbreaking book On Death and Dying first published in 1969. It is in that book that she first discusses her theory on the five stages of grief.
For many, though, grief is more circular than stage-like, and many people experience all or multiple stages at the same time.
Elisabeth has tons of other amazing quotes about grief, including:
“Those who learned to know death, rather than to fear and fight it, become our teachers about life.”
“I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is no death the way we understood it. The body dies, but not the soul.”
“It's only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth - and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up, we will then begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had.”
“Consciously or not, we are all on a quest for answers, trying to learn the lessons of life. We grapple with fear and guilt. We search for meaning, love, and power. We try to understand fear, loss, and time. We seek to discover who we are and how we can become truly happy.”
“Denial helps us to pace our feelings of grief. There is a grace in denial. It is nature's way of letting in only as much as we can handle.”
“The five stages - denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance - are a part of the framework that makes up our learning to live with the one we lost. They are tools to help us frame and identify what we may be feeling. But they are not stops on some linear timeline in grief.”
“I'm going to dance in all the galaxies.”
“It is not the length of the life, but the depth of the life.” –– Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson was an American poet, essaying and philosopher who brought about the concept of transcendentalism, the belief that everything in our world—even a drop of dew—is a microcosm of the universe.
His wife’s death at age 19 from tuberculosis had a profound effect on Emerson’s life, alerting its course from clergyman to poet. His philosophy after her death was characterized by its reliance on intuition as the only way to comprehend reality.
Despite his grief, he was known as a steadfast optimist – and refused to acknowledge the existence of evil.
Other great quotes by Ralph Waldo Emerson include:
“We acquire the strength we have overcome.”
“Sorrow makes us all children again - destroys all differences of intellect. The wisest know nothing.”
“For each thorn, there's a rosebud... For each twilight - a dawn... For each trial - the strength to carry on, For each storm cloud - a rainbow... For each shadow - the sun... For each parting - sweet memories when sorrow is done.”
“To have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever.” ― J.K. Rowling
J.K. Rowling is the well-known author of the beloved Harry Potter series. And she is no new-comer to grief.
The seven-year period that followed saw the death of her mother, the birth of her first child, divorce from her first husband, and relative poverty until the first novel in the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, was published in 1997.
The loss of her mother was a significant turning point in her life, and she’s written multiple times about her grief in having her mother not know she was working on Harry Potter. She also channelled her feelings of loss by writing about Harry's own feelings of loss in greater detail in the first book.
Many of those quotes are included here:
“To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.”
“Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect.”
"You think the dead we loved truly ever leave us? You think that we don't recall them more clearly in times of great trouble?"
"Numbing the pain for a while will make it worse when you finally feel it."
"Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery."
"You care so much you feel as though you will bleed to death with the pain of it."
"The fact that you can feel pain like this is your greatest strength."
“One of the most important things I’ve learned is how deeply you can keep loving someone after they die. You may not be able to hold them or talk to them, and you may even date or love someone else, but you can still love them every bit as much.” - Sheryl Sandberg
Sheryl Sandberg is the Chief Operating Officer at Facebook and the author of Lean In and Option B, the latter written after the sudden passing of her husband while on vacation.
Sheryl has been a leading voice and activist is encouraging more women to take leadership positions at large organizations. She has also become a leading voice for naming and addressing grief, post-traumatic growth, and more.
Her website, OptionB, is a community hub of stories from celebrities to your next door neighbor about how they handle grief, so that each of us can feel a bit less lonely in our own personal journey of grief.
She has multiple quotes as well, including these:
“Life is never perfect. We all live some form of Option B.”
“I am more vulnerable than I thought, but much stronger than I ever imagined.”
“Philosopher Søren Kierkegaard said that life can only be understood backward but it must be lived forward.”
“We find our humanity—our will to live and our ability to love—in our connections to one another.”
“Counting our blessings doesn’t boost our confidence or our effort, but counting our contributions can.”
“Self-compassion isn't talked about as much as it should be, maybe because it's often confused with its troublesome cousins, self-pity and self-indulgence. Psychologist Kristin Neff describes self-compassion as offering the same kindness to ourselves that we would give to a friend. It allows us to respond to our own errors with concern and understanding rather than criticism and shame.”
“Self-compassion often coexists with remorse. It does not mean shirking responsibility for our past. It’s about making sure that we don’t beat ourselves up so badly that we damage our future. It helps us realize that doing a bad thing does not necessarily make us a bad person. Instead of thinking ‘if only I weren’t,’ we can think ‘if only I hadn’t.’ This is why confession in the Catholic religion begins with ‘Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned,’ not ‘Forgive me, Father, for I am a sinner.’
“Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything.” ― C.S. Lewis
C.S. Lewis is a celebrated English author of both fiction and Christian non-fiction. His mother passed as a young child, and he later grew a close relationship with Jane Moore, who he occasionally called his mother.
She was the mother of a friend in the war with whom he had made a promise that if either of them died, they would take care of the other’s family. Lewis upheld that promise after his friend’s death. His wife also passed before him.
Lewis’ life saw him through many episodes of grief, but his faith and his dedication to friends and family was a source of inspiration.
He has multiple grief quotes that are helpful, including:
“Grief is like a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape.”
“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.”
“The death of a beloved is an amputation.”
“Part of every misery is, so to speak, the misery's shadow or reflection: the fact that you don't merely suffer but have to keep on thinking about the fact that you suffer. I not only live each endless day in grief, but live each day thinking about living each day in grief.”
“Feelings, and feelings, and feelings. Let me try thinking instead.”
“Grief ... gives life a permanently provisional feeling. It doesn't seem worth starting anything. I can't settle down. I yawn, I fidget, I smoke too much. Up till this I always had too little time. Now there is nothing but time. Almost pure time, empty successiveness.”
“Some things cannot be fixed; they can only be carried. Grief like yours, love like yours, can only be carried.” ― Megan Devine
Megan Devine is a grief advocate and communication expert best known for her 2017 book, It’s OK That You’re Not OK. She also has a grief journal launching in 2020 titled: How to Carry What Can’t Be. She is the founder of Refuge in Grief, a grief support resource and online community which serves both grieving people and those looking to better support grieving people via free online resources, paid creative courses, and professional training.
She is best known for her approach to grief support which excludes the use of platitudes. Her husband passed unexpectedly in 2009. Prior to her work in grief, she was a sexual violence awareness educator and taught writer in a day shelter for at-risk youth. She’s always been an educator, helping folks live better through all types of issues.
And, she has tons of quotes to help!
“There is not a reason for everything. Not every loss can be transformed into something useful. Things happen that do not have a silver lining.”
Here’s the thing: every loss is valid. And every loss is not the same. You can’t flatten the landscape of grief and say that everything is equal. It isn’t.”
“Grief is visceral, not reasonable: the howling at the center of grief is raw and real. It is love in its most wild form.”
“Grief is not a sign that you’re unwell or unevolved. It’s a sign that love has been part of your life, and that you want love to continue, even here.”
“There are losses that rearrange the world. Deaths that change the way you see everything, grief that tears everything down. Pain that transports you to an entirely different universe, even while everyone else thinks nothing has really changed.”
“I know why we try to keep the dead alive: we try to keep them alive in order to keep them with us.” ― Joan Didion
Joan Didion was a famous American author who won extensive praise for her book The Year of Magical Thinking, which documented the grief she experienced following the sudden death of her husband. The book has been said to be a "masterpiece of two genres: memoir and investigative journalism."
While on tour promotion the book, her daughter passed. She later wrote a book, Blue Nights, about that experience and its grief.
Here are a couple notable quotes on grief that can help:
“I could not count the times during the average day when something would come up that I needed to tell him. This impulse did not end with his death. What ended was the possibility of response.”
“Mourning, the act of dealing with grief, required attention. Until now there had been every urgent reason to obliterate any attention that might otherwise have been paid, banish the thought, bring fresh adrenaline to bear on the crisis of the day.”
“When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate—the genetic and neural fate—of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.” ― Oliver Sacks
Oliver Sacks was a renowned Neurologist and Author, who wrote about the lives, experiences, and brain quirks of his patients with their permission. Nearly the end of his own life, Sacks applied that candor and curiosity to his own life and near death.
This is one the last quotes from that collection of essays:
“Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.”
“There are no happy endings. Endings are the saddest part. Just give me a happy middle, and a very happy start.” –– Shel Silverstein
His only daughter passed at age 11 of a cerebral aneurysm.
His poem Where the Sidewalk Ends is used often at funerals, and others of his grief quotes are featured in blogs across the internet. His poems and words have helped millions, and many American children grew up with his work as their bedtime stories.
“The boundaries which divide life from death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins?” –– Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe was an American writer, editor, and literary critic. He was one of the first authors to try and make a professional living as a writer only. Poe was often surrounded by grief. His father abandoned the family in 1810, and his mother died the following year.
Beyond that, the 1800s was an era of romanticized death and dying with so many passing from tuberculosis. Edgar own wife passed from the disease after five years of his care taking.
His poem Annabelle Lee is often cited:
“It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of ANNABEL LEE;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.
I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea;
But we loved with a love that was more than love-
I and my Annabel Lee;
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
Coveted her and me.
And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsman came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
In this kingdom by the sea.
The angels, not half so happy in heaven,
Went envying her and me-
Yes!- that was the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.
But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we-
Of many far wiser than we-
And neither the angels in heaven above,
Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee.
For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling- my darling- my life and my bride,
In the sepulchre there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea.”
― Edgar Allen Poe
“They that love beyond the world cannot be separated by it. Death cannot kill what never dies.” - William Penn
William Penn was a writer and founder of the English North American colony of Province Pennsylvania. He was an advocate of democracy and religious freedom. He was also an early supporter of colonial unification.
He was a man of deep religious conviction, and was imprisoned several times in the Tower of London, where he wrote at least one book, No Cross, No Crown.
Other of his quotes around grief and death include: “For death is no more than a turning of us over from time to eternity.”
“And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it though, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm is all about.” - Haruki Murakami
Haruki Murakami is a Japanese writer with multiple bestsellers. His work has won him numerous awards and praise, including become called “among the world’s greatest living novelists” by The Guardian.
He is also an avid long distance runner and and triathlon enthusiast, hobbies he did not pick up until he was 33 years old.
Murakami acknowledges that there is something about people going through trauma, chaos and confusion that are drawn to his books. In an interview with The Guardian:, he said:
“I was so popular in the 1990s in Russia, at the time they were changing from the Soviet Union – there was big confusion, and people in confusion like my books" and “In Germany, when the Berlin Wall fell down, there was confusion – and people liked my books.”
Other of his quotes on grief include:
“No truth can cure the sadness we feel from losing a loved one. No truth, no sincerity, no strength, no kindness, can cure that sorrow. All we can do is see that sadness through to the end and learn something from it, but what we learn will be no help in facing the next sadness that comes to us without warning.”
If you remember me, then I don’t care if everyone else forgets.
“Sometimes when I look at you, I feel I’m gazing at a distant star.
It’s dazzling, but the light is from tens of thousands of years ago.
Maybe the star doesn’t even exist any more. Yet sometimes that light seems more real to me than anything.”
“Death is not the opposite of life, but a part of it.”
“People die all the time. Life is a lot more fragile than we think. So you should treat others in a way that leaves no regrets. Fairly, and if possible, sincerely. It’s too easy not to make the effort, then weep and wring your hands after the person dies.
“It’s not as if our lives are divided simply into light and dark. There’s shadowy middle ground. Recognizing and understanding the shadows is what a healthy intelligence does. And to acquire a healthy intelligence takes a certain amount of time and effort.”
“You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly – that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.” – Anne Lamott
Anne Lamott is an American novelist and non-fiction writer who often covers topics including alcoholism, single-motherhood, depression, and Christianity. Much of her work focuses on grief, gratitude, and forgiveness.
Other of her grief quotes include:
“When you are on the knife’s edge — when nobody knows exactly what is going to happen next, only that it will be worse — you take in today. So here we were, at the trailhead, for a cold day’s walk.”
“The trees looked congregational. As we walked beneath the looming green world, pushing out its burls and sprouts, I felt a moment’s panic at the thought of Barbara’s impending death, and maybe also my own. We are all going to die! That’s just so awful. I didn’t agree to this. How do we live in the face of this? Left foot, right foot, push the walker forward.”
“Into every life crap will fall. Most of us do as well as possible, and some of it works okay, and we try to release that which doesn’t and which is never going to. … Making so much of it work is the grace of it; and not being able to make it work is double grace. Grace squared.”
“We turn toward love like sunflowers, and then the human parts kick in. This seems to me the only real problem, the human parts — the body, for instance, and the mind. Also, the knowledge that every person you’ve ever loved will die, many badly, and too young, doesn’t really help things. My friend Marianne once said that Jesus has everything we have, but He doesn’t have all the other stuff, too. And the other stuff leaves you shaking your sunflower head, your whole life through.”
“I miss her all the time. I know in my head that she has gone. The only difference is that I am getting used to the pain. It's like discovering a great hole in the ground. To begin with, you forget it's there and keep falling in. After a while, it's still there, but you learn to walk round it.” ― Rachel Joyce
Rachel Joyce is an English writer whose characters often walk the journey of grief.
She once told The Independent:
“When my dad died, I didn’t know where to put my grief. The first time I had a miscarriage was the same. I didn’t know how to fit what I was feeling with normal, everyday life. For me to go and write was like a way of shaping something so big that I would otherwise be overwhelmed.”
“I don’t think of all the misery, but of all the beauty that remains.”- Anne Frank
Anne Frank was a Jewish diarist whose family went in to hiding in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam. They were later found, and Anne died in a concentration camp near her sister.
Anne’s writings from her time in hiding are among some of the most celebrated in literature for their ability to highlight the good in humanity even against all odds.
Others of her quotes on grief include:
“I've found that there is always some beauty left -- in nature, sunshine, freedom, in yourself; these can all help you.”
“Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.”
“Those who have courage and faith shall never perish in misery”
“We have trauma, and we have grief. People die, and we find it baffling. Painful. Inexplicable. Grief is baffling. There are theories on how we react to death, how we cope, how we handle loss. Some believe the range of emotions mourners experience is predictable, that grief can be monitored, as if mourners are following a checklist. But sorrow is less of a checklist, more like water. It's fluid, it has no set shape, never disappears, never ends. It doesn't go away. It just changes. It changes us.” ― Mira Ptacin
Mira Ptacin is a writer whose work focuses on empathy, grief, and equal rights. Her book, Poor Your Soul, is about the loss of her unborn child at 28.
“To lose someone you love is to alter your life for ever. You don’t get over it because ‘it” is the person you loved. The pain stops, there are new people, but the gap never closes. How could it? The particularities of someone who mattered enough to grieve over is not made anodyne by death. This hole in my heart is in the shape of you and no-one else can fit it. Why would I want them to?” ― Jeanette Winterson
Jeanette Winterson is an English writer of novels that explore gender polarities and sexual identities.
“Without you in my arms, I feel an emptiness in my soul. I find myself searching the crowds for your face - I know it's an impossibility, but I cannot help myself.” ― Nicholas Sparks
Nicholas Sparks is a famous American romance writer and screenwriter. He has published more than twenty books, several of which have become international bestsellers.
Eleven of his books have been adapted to film, all with multi-million dollar box office sales.
He explores the boundaries of close relationships, how we connect, and how not even death can sever the ties.
Here is another of his grief quotes:
“In times of grief and sorrow I will hold you and rock you and take your grief and make it my own. When you cry I cry and when you hurt I hurt. And together we will try to hold back the floods to tears and despair and make it through the potholed street of life.”
“Never. We never lose our loved ones. They accompany us; they don’t disappear from our lives. We are merely in different rooms.” – Paulo Coelho
Paulo Coelho is a writer best known for his book The Alchemist, which is a coming of age novel.
Others of his quotes on grief include:
“I can choose either to be a victim of the world or an adventurer in search of treasure. It's all a question of how I view my life.”
“The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.”
“You will never be able to escape from your heart. So it's better to listen to what it has to say.”
“Anyone who has lost something they thought was theirs forever finally comes to realise that nothing really belongs to them.”
"We bereaved are not alone. We belong to the largest company in all the world—the company of those who have known suffering." - Clover Stroud
Clover Stroud is a writer and journalist. She published a memoir, The Wild Other, about an accident that left her mother permanently brain damaged when she was only 16.
"Grief, I now understand, is a sort of madness, in the same way that falling in love is madness."- Patrick Swayze
Patrick Swayze was an American actor, dancer, singer, and songwriter. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and talked publicly about the diagnosis over the following 20 months prior to his death. His wife has since talked openly about her grief, which she says his illness did not prepare her for.
“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.” ― Mary Oliver
Mary Oliver was an American poet who won multiple awards for her work. She wrote about nature, grief, loss, wandering, and more. Her poems today are read, taught, and memorized in schools and minds around the world.
A couple of her poems on the topic include:
“When Death Comes”
When it’s over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
“In Blackwater Woods”
To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.
“Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith.” ㅡ Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs was the founder of Apple, who died of pancreatic cancer. His company, life, business acumen and more continue to be celebrated today in books, TV shows, and popular culture.
“The people we most love do become a physical part of us, ingrained in our synapses, in the pathways where memories are created.” - Meghan O’Rourke
Megan O’Rourke is an American writer and poet. Her book, The Long Goodbye, is a memoir of grief and mourning written after the death of her mother.
Others of her grief quotes include:
“Nothing prepared me for the loss of my mother. Even knowing that she would die did not prepare me. A mother, after all, is your entry into the world. She is the shell in which you divide and become a life. Waking up in a world without her is like waking up in a world without sky: unimaginable.”
“So much of dealing with a disease is waiting. Waiting for appointments, for tests, for “procedures.” And waiting, more broadly, for it—for the thing itself, for the other shoe to drop.”
“Time doesn’t obey our commands. You cannot make it holy just because it is disappearing.”
“When you lose someone you were close to, you have to reassess your picture of the world and your place in it. The more your identity is wrapped up with the deceased, the more difficult the mental work.”
“The otherworldliness of loss was so intense that at times I had to believe it was a singular passage, a privilege of some kind, even if all it left me with was a clearer grasp of our human predicament. It was why I kept finding myself drawn to the remote desert: I wanted to be reminded of how the numinous impinges on ordinary life.”
“After a loss, you have to learn to believe the dead one is dead. It doesn’t come naturally.”
“I think about my mother every day, but not as concertedly as I used to. She crosses my mind like a spring cardinal that flies past the edge of your eye: startling, luminous, lovely, gone.”
“Death might appear to destroy the meaning in our lives, but in fact it is the very source of our creativity. As Kafka said, ‘The meaning of life is that it ends.’ Death is the engine that keeps us running, giving us the motivation to achieve, learn, love, and create.” - Caitlin Doughty
Other of her quotes on grief and death include:
“Holding the space is crucial, and exactly what we are missing. To hold the space is to create a ring of safety around the family and friends of the dead, providing a place where they can grieve openly and honestly, without fear of being judged.”
“All that surrounds us comes from death, every part of every city, and every part of every person.”
“To weep is to make less the depth of grief.” - William Shakespeare
You know who William Shakespere is, the English playwright. He has tons of quotes on grief, and a myriad of other topics, but this one, about the need to weep, seems best.
“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.” - Washington Irving
Washington Irving was an American short story writer and diplomat of the early 19th century. His first two sons died in infancy, as did his fourth child. This is one of his most famous quotes.
“Griefs, at the moment when they change into ideas, lose some of their power to injure our heart.” – Marcel Proust
Marcel Proust was a French novelist and essayist. Between 1900 and 1905, Proust went through the death of his brother, father, and mother. His own health continued to deteriorate at this time.
Here is another one of his quotes about grief:
“Happiness is beneficial for the body, but it is grief that develops the powers of the mind.”
“Grief is the price we pay for love.” – Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II is the longest living British monarch and a cultural icon around the world.
“Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them.” - Leo Tolstoy
Leo Tolstoy was a Russian writer who is considered one of the greatest writers of all time. He wrote often about death, dying, grief and mourning.
“When someone you love dies, and you're not expecting it, you don't lose her all at once; you lose her in pieces over a long time—the way the mail stops coming, and her scent fades from the pillows and even from the clothes in her closet and drawers. Gradually, you accumulate the parts of her that are gone. Just when the day comes—when there's a particular missing part that overwhelms you with the feeling that she's gone, forever—there comes another day, and another specifically missing part.” ― John Irving
John Irving is an American novelist and screenwriter. Many of his books are about death and grief, particularly “A Widow for One Year,” A Prayer for Owen Meany,” and “Garp.”
Grieving and mourning are tough. Finding solace and company is quotes of those past and present who have been there, who have walked in similar shoes, and written about the depths, the curiosities, and the weaving path of the journey can be helpful.
Are there any grief quotes that have been particularly helpful to you? Let us know, and we’ll include them in the piece to help all others who find their way here.
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