September 24, 2019

15 Quotes to Grieve By.

“Some things cannot be fixed; they can only be carried. Grief like yours, love like yours, can only be carried.” ~ Megan Devine


The only constant in life is impermanence.

Meaning that life as we know it now will inevitably change. Those we love will be lost, and new life will enter.

Our hearts will shatter when someone dear to us passes, and we’ll be left to put the pieces back together. Sure, our heart will continue to beat, but it will never be the same as it once was.

For such a lonely and confusing place to be, grief is universal. Every single person experiences loss throughout their life. 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 one day come for you, too.

While losing someone can feel awful, grief itself isn’t a bad thing. Grief and its more active cousin, mourning, transform our brains and our world. We allow ourselves to open our eyes wide, embrace in our hearts all the beauty that is there. We create legacies and carry our loved ones with us.

Remember, you aren’t alone in this. You have the support and empathy of everyone who was, is, or will be. And in the dark times, we can turn to others who have experienced loss for their words of wisdom.

For those who are in the grips of grief’s loneliness, let’s create space in our life to reflect on the following quotes about grief, mourning, and the experience of deep loss to help reconnect us all to this essential experience of life.

Knowing that as we experience loss, words, songs, and places may speak to us in different ways than before. A quote that you have seen before might trigger something completely different than before. This is all part of the healing process.

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 we are feeling. 

These are the grief quotes that can help cure loneliness, or bring a different perspective to our mourning we may not have yet explored.

Consider spending 15 minutes a day for the next month contemplating the following quotes. Take the time to journal your emotions, reactions, and thoughts as they relate to the loss of your loved one and/or the quote you contemplate for the day.

You can also use these quotes at funerals, in letters to loved ones, or for meditation.

15 quotes that have helped people through grief:

1. “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. 

2. “It’s not the length of the life, but the depth of the life.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson was an American poet 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.

3. “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 newcomer to grief. 

She had a seven-year period that 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.

4. “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 in 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. 

5. “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 nonfiction. 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’s life saw him through many episodes of grief, but his faith and his dedication to friends and family was a source of inspiration. 

6. “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 that 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 writing in a day shelter for at-risk youth. She’s always been an educator, helping folks live better through all types of issues.

7. “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 is 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 promoting the book, her daughter passed. She later wrote a book, Blue Nights, about that experience and its grief.

8. “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. Near the end of his own life, Sacks applied that candor and curiosity to his own life and death.

9. “There are no happy endings. Endings are the saddest part. Just give me a happy middle. And a very happy start.” ~ Shel Silverstein

Shel Silverstein was an American singer-songwriter, cartoonist, screenwriter, award-winning children’s writer, and actor. He was best known for his books Where the Sidewalk Ends and The Giving Tree

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.

10. “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 Allen 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’s own wife passed from the disease after five years of his caretaking.

11. “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 the Province of 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 the book No Cross, No Crown.

12. “And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, 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 being called “among the world’s greatest living novelists” by The Guardian.

He is also an avid long-distance runner and a 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 who 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.”

13. “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 nonfiction writer who often covers topics including alcoholism, single-motherhood, depression, and Christianity. Much of her work focuses on grief, gratitude, and forgiveness.

14. “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.”

15. “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 into 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.

Remembering a Beautiful Life

Whatever you do, use these quotes 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.

Grieving and mourning are tough. Finding solace and company in quotes of those past and present who have been there, who have walked in similar shoes, and written about the depths, curiosities, and the weaving path of the journey can be helpful.


Have you found any quotes that have helped you on your journey after losing a loved one? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below to help all others who find their way here.

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