Finding comfort after loss
Grief, simply put, is adjusting to a loss. It can be the loss of a loved one, a dream, a job or a faith. It can be big or small, last for hours or years, feel as sharp as a knife or dull as a deep bruise. Regardless of the specific circumstances, sadness is always normal.
“Grief is not a disease. It’s not a sign that something has gone wrong. It’s actually a sign that something is going well,” said social worker and psychotherapist Abigail Nathanson, a professor of grief and trauma at New York University. “Grief is just part of being in relationships. We are determined to seek relationships and we are determined to grieve when they end.
Knowing that grieving is both expected and understandable is the first step in coping with the pain. “The purpose of sadness is not ‘How do I stop being sad?’ but ‘How do I wear this and still live my life in a meaningful way?’ says Nathanson.
There is no one “right” way to grieve, nor is there a recipe for getting through it. However, there are some things that many people find helpful in the process, she says. One of the most beneficial things for those grieving a loss is finding a community of others who can understand and sympathize. One way to do that is by reading grief quotes from people who have loved and lost and lived to talk about it.
Mourning quotes to help you cope
Find a way to remember loved ones
“What is beautiful never dies but passes into other beauty – stardust or sea foam, flower or winged sky.” —Thomas Bailey Aldrich, writer and poet
The reason headstones exist is to help people remember their loved ones who have passed away, but headstones are not the only way to honor someone’s memory. Plant their favorite flower, scatter their ashes in their favorite spot or just go somewhere that reminds you of them.
Search for meaning
“The timing of death, like the end of a story, gives a different meaning to what preceded it.” —Mary Catherine Bateson, author
Some people find it helpful in their grieving process to look for a greater meaning in the life or loss of their loved one. What have they contributed to the world? To you? Cultural or religious traditions can help with this, such as what you can learn about Day of the Dead mourning.
talk to someone
“The irony of grief is that the person you most want to talk to about it is gone.” -Anonymously
Grieving is normal, but if you get stuck in the process and find your daily life is suffering, it’s time to talk to someone about it. A close friend or family member can help, or find a therapist trained in grief counseling. (The pandemic has been tough on everyone; check out these therapist tips for coping with Covid-19-related grief.)
Be patient with yourself
“Sadness is like the ocean. It comes in waves, sometimes calm and sometimes overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.” —Vicki Harrison, author
Grief does not flow in a logical progression from harder to easier. It can increase and decrease for years and then suddenly feel intense again when you hit a milestone without your loved one — like getting married years after your father died. Mourning quotes like this one from Harrison remind you that feeling sad again doesn’t mean going backwards.
Love and loss are intertwined
“Regardless of age, we mourn those who are loved and lost. Grief is one of the deepest expressions of pure love.” —Russell M. Nelson, religious leader
It’s the most poignant form of pain: if you didn’t love someone so much, it wouldn’t hurt so much to lose them. You cannot have love without sorrow, nor sorrow without love. (Here’s how to deal with anger and sadness.)
Grief can be very complicated
“Sorrow in two parts: the loss of one life, the making of another.” -Anonymously
Grieving is often not an easy process. People are complicated, and so is grieving them. Regardless of how you feel about the person and their death (and it’s appropriate to feel a lot of conflicting feelings), their life has somehow changed yours. It can help you identify those ways, both good and bad.
Accept the process
“The only cure for grief is grieving.” —Count Grollman, writer
It is true that there is no wrong way to grieve, and for many people, anger and denial are part of the process. The key is to keep moving forward rather than ignoring or pushing your grief away. Grief will find a way out. (Here’s what not to say to someone after they’ve had a miscarriage.)
Search for characters
“Maybe they aren’t stars in the sky, but rather openings where our loved ones shine down to let us know they are happy.” — Traditional Inuit saying
Regardless of whether or not you believe in heaven or in some other life after death, many people find comfort in looking for signs that remind them of their loved ones. You might think of them after finding a lucky coin or spotting a winking star, for example.
Learn from your suffering
“If only suffering were taught, the whole world would be wise, as everyone suffers. To the suffering must be added grief, understanding, patience, love, openness and the willingness to remain vulnerable.” —Anne Morrow Lindbergh, author
It is often the greatest storms in our lives that teach us the most important lessons. Think about what your loved one may have wanted to teach you or the positive ways you can grow and change through the experience. (If you find comfort in these grief quotes, you may also find some inspiration in these mountain quotes that can help you overcome personal hurdles.)
Feel it in your body
“Sadness is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give and can’t. All that unused love gathers in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat and the hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love without a place to go.” —Jamie Anderson, professional snowboarder
It is not uncommon to feel physical sadness in your body, such as a bruised heart or a blocked throat. We grieve with all of our selves, so find ways to comfort yourself both physically and emotionally. Find a warm hug or take a long walk. (Check out these quotes about pain and how to deal with it.)
talk to them
“Sometimes I just look up, smile and say ‘I know it was you!'” -Anonymous
Many people find comfort in speaking out loud or writing a letter to a loved one who has passed away. It helps you to verbalize and process your feelings. (Check out these tips to improve communication in relationships.)
You name it
“Depression is a feeling without a cause. Grief has a cause.” —Edward Hirsch, poet
Grief and grief are so much more than being sad. In fact, you can feel sadness and joy and humor and anger – and a host of other feelings at the same time. If you feel bad about your negative feelings, you will only feel worse. Identifying your feelings and the cause can help you process them.
Don’t put an end date on it
“You can’t get over a loss; you will learn to live with it. You will be whole again, but you will never be the same again. Neither do you. You wouldn’t want that either.” —Elizabeth Kubler Ross, author of About grief and mourning
People who tell you to get over it or move on may think they’re helping you, but grieving doesn’t work that way. If you continue to feel pain or sadness, it doesn’t mean you’re broken. (Learn about more ways to deal with disenfranchised grief.)
We all mourn
“Death is not the opposite of life, but a part of it.” —Haruki Murakami, author
Every society has birth and death rituals, and that’s because everyone on Earth has to come and go at some point. Recognizing death as a fact of life can make it less scary. (This is what “dying old age” really means.)
Find your tribe
“We relatives are not the only ones. We belong to the greatest company in the world – those who have known suffering.” —Helen Keller, author and advocate
Few things are as healing as talking to someone else who has been through what you are going through – and those people may not be your loved ones. Find a support group, in person or online, of people who understand your specific type of loss. (Here’s what one person learned from a social anxiety support group.)
“Death presents us with a challenge, never to waste our time. It reminds us to share our love with each other as much as possible.” —Leo Buscaglia, author
Suffering has a unique way of making us grateful for our blessings, big and small. (Here’s what you should and shouldn’t say to someone who is suffering.)
What Happens After Death?
“Death is nothing more than moving from one room to another. But there’s a difference for me, you know. Because in that other room I will be able to see.” —Helen Keller, author and advocate
You may find comfort in thinking about what your loved one is doing or how he is feeling right now. Even if you don’t believe in an afterlife, it can be comforting to think that they are no longer in pain. Read this person’s near-death experience for some insider insight.
Mourning can be a kind of honor
“It is an honor to be in mourning. It is an honor to feel so much, to have loved so much.” —Elizabeth Gilbert, author
Grieving someone’s loss is a testament to how loved and cherished they were in your life. It is an honor to be a part of their lives, however short.
Now that you’ve read these grief quotes, see how happy memories of loved ones make you healthier.