Grief Quotes

We humans are aspirational. And we are creatures of language. There is even some science behind why inspiring quotes can be so effective. These Grief quotes will pull ideas from far away into your view, help motivate you, and enliven you to broaden your perspective.

“The word grief comes from the Old French greve, meaning ‘a heavy burden.’ When you grieve for a loss, you have to carry a heavy burden.” – Steven Hayes

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid.” – CS Lewis, A Grief Observed

A loss is like an amputation. If the blood doesn’t stop gushing soon after the operation, then you will die. To survive means, by definition, that the blood has stopped. But the amputation is still there.” – CS Lewis, A Grief Observed

“Grief is essentially an emotion that draws us toward something or something that is missing. It rises from awareness of a discrepancy between the world that is and the world that ‘should be.’” – Richard Gross, The Psychology of Grief

“Notice the subtle but important differences in the terms used to describe loss. Grief and mourning are often used interchangeably, but they actually speak to different parts of the experience. The definition of grief is ‘sorrow or mental anguish resulting from loss.’ In other words, it is a noun that describes the feelings. Mourning is a verb that describes the act of expressing grief. As leading grief expert Alan Wolfelt put it, ‘Grief is what we think and feel inside after a loss. Mourning …is the expression of our thoughts and feelings outside of ourselves.’” – Patrick O’Malley, Getting Grief Right

quotes on grief

“Drawing on work by another researcher, John Bowlby, [Colin Murray Parkes] argued that the dominant element of grief was a restless “searching.” The heightened physical arousal, anger, and sadness of grief resemble the anxiety that children suffer when they’re separated from their mothers. Parkes speculated that we likewise continue to “search” illogically (and in distress) for a loved one after death.” – Meghan O’Rourke, The Long Goodbye

“While you may be able to analyze your grief at three p.m., that has nothing to do with how you feel at three a.m., in the dark center of night.” Listening to her, I realized that I had been on some level confusing speech -or language -with feeling all year. I had thought, If only I can speak about this, I can understand it, or contain it. But language is the epiphenomenon of a phenomenon that is like waves. The waves aren’t the whole of it. They are a small part of a larger entity…Periodically for the rest of my life, my mother’s death will seem like it took place yesterday.” – Meghan O’Rourke, The Long Goodbye

“In becoming forcibly and essentially aware of my own mortality, and of what I wished and wanted for in my life, however short it might be, priorities and omissions became strongly etched in a merciless light and what I most regretted were my silences. Of what had I ever been afraid?” – Audre Lorde

“The real cutting edge of growth and development is in hurting with each other. It’s in companionship, not correction. Acknowledgement – being seen and heard and witnessed inside the truth about one’s own life – is the only real medicine of grief.” – Megan Devine, It’s OK That You’re Not OK

There is no going back. There is no moving on. There only moving with: an integration of all that has come before, and all you have been asked to live…”Recovery” in grief is not about moving on. It’s not about resilience or a return to “normal” life. Recovery is about listening to your wounds. Recovery is being honest about the state of your own devastation. It’s about cultivating patience, not the kind that implies waiting it out until you return to normal, but patience in knowing that grief and loss will carve their way through you, changing you. Making their own kind of beauty, in their own ways.” – Megan Devine, It’s OK That You’re Not OK

“Every time we experience a loss, we have another chance to experience life at a greater depth. It opens us to the most essential truths of our lives: the inevitability of impermanence, the causes of suffering, and the illusion of separateness. We begin to appreciate that we are more than the grief. We are what the grief is moving through. In the end, we may still fear death, but we don’t fear living nearly as much. In surrendering to our grief, we have learned to give ourselves to life.” – Frank Ostaseski, The Five Invitations, p. 165

“There’s this tremendous psychological and spiritual challenge to relax in the awesome power of it until it has gone through you. Grief is a full-body experience. It takes over your entire body — it’s not a disease of the mind. It’s something that impacts you at the physical level… I feel that it has a tremendous relationship to love: First of all, as they say, it’s the price you pay for love. But, secondly, in the moments of my life when I have fallen in love, I have just as little power over it as I do in grief. There are certain things that happen to you as a human being that you cannot control or command, that will come to you at really inconvenient times, and where you have to bow in the human humility to the fact that there’s something running through you that’s bigger than you.” – Elizabeth Gilbert in a powerful podcast episode.

And, from Elizabeth Gilbert’s Instagram:

“Here is what I have learned about Grief, though.
I have learned that Grief is a force of energy that cannot be controlled or predicted. It comes and goes on its own schedule. Grief does not obey your plans, or your wishes. Grief will do whatever it wants to you, whenever it wants to. In that regard, Grief has a lot in common with Love.
The only way that I can “handle” Grief, then, is the same way that I “handle” Love — by not “handling” it. By bowing down before its power, in complete humility.
When Grief comes to visit me, it’s like being visited by a tsunami. I am given just enough warning to say, “Oh my god, this is happening RIGHT NOW,” and then I drop to the floor on my knees and let it rock me. How do you survive the tsunami of Grief? By being willing to experience it, without resistance.
The conversation of Grief, then, is one of prayer-and-response.
Grief says to me: “You will never love anyone the way you loved Rayya.” And I reply: “I am willing for that to be true.” Grief says: “She’s gone, and she’s never coming back.” I reply: “I am willing for that to be true.” Grief says: “You will never hear that laugh again.” I say: “I am willing.” Grief says, “You will never smell her skin again.” I get down on the floor on my fucking knees, and — and through my sheets of tears — I say, “I AM WILLING.” This is the job of the living — to be willing to bow down before EVERYTHING that is bigger than you. And nearly everything in this world is bigger than you.
I don’t know where Rayya is now. It’s not mine to know. I only know that I will love her forever. And that I am willing.
Onward.”

Elizabeth Gilbert. Photo: Wikipedia

“I have learned there is no joy without hardship. There is no pleasure without pain. Would we know the comfort of peace without the distress of war?” – Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

“Dying is an integral part of life, as natural and predictable as being born. But whereas birth is cause for celebration, death has become a dreaded and unspeakable issue to be avoided by every means possible in our modern society. Perhaps it is that in spite of all our technological advances. We may be able to delay it, but we cannot escape it. We, no less than other, non-rational animals, are destined to die at the end of our lives. And death strikes indiscriminately – it cares not at all for the status or position of the ones it chooses; everyone must die, whether rich or poor, famous or unknown. Even good deeds will not exclude their doers from the sentence of death; the good die as often as the bad. It is perhaps this inevitable and unpredictable quality that makes death so frightening to many people. Especially those who put a high value on being in control of their own existence are offended by the thought that they too are subject to the forces of death.” – Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

“It is difficult to accept death in this society because it is unfamiliar. In spite of the fact that it happens all the time, we never see it.” – Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

“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.” – Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

“I thought I could describe a state; make a map of sorrow. Sorrow, however, turns out to be not a state but a process. It needs not a map but a history…” – CS Lewis, A Grief Observed

“I think I am beginning to understand why grief feels like suspense. It comes from the frustration of so many impulses that had become habitual. Thought after thought, feeling after feeling, action after action, had H. for their object. Now their target is gone. I keep on through habit fitting an arrow to the string, then I remember and have to lay the bow down. So many roads lead thought to H. I set out on one of them. But now there’s an impassable frontierpost across it. So many roads once; now so many culs de sac.” – CS Lewis,  A Grief Observed

All quotes on this page have been found and curated for you from around the internet, within our Books on Grief, and otherwise from our Resources page (link below).

You can find more quotes on grief here.