18 Jul 2019 - Tracey Wallace
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:
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.
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?
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’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
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
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
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.
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.
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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!
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:
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.”
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.
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
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.”
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:
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:
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.”
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:
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.
Jeanette Winterson is an English writer of novels that explore gender polarities and sexual identities.
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.”
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Other of her quotes on grief and death include:
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.
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.
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.”
Queen Elizabeth II is the longest living British monarch and a cultural icon around the world.
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.
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.Back to more articles
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