Wooden heart with adhesive bandages on table.

Grief is a natural state of sadness when we lose a loved one, or have any loss of that magnitude. What have authors and wise people through the ages said about grief?

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There is no pain so great as the memory of joy in present grief.

— Aeschylus

In the midst of hate, I found there was, within me, an invincible love.
In the midst of tears, I found there was, within me, an invincible smile.
In the midst of chaos, I found there was, within me, an invincible calm.
I realized, through it all, that ….
In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.
And that makes me happy.
For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.

— Albert Camus

Joy, sorrow, tears, lamentation, laughter — to all these music gives voice, but in such a way that we are transported from the world of unrest to a world of peace, and see reality in a new way, as if we were sitting by a mountain lake and contemplating hills and woods and clouds in the tranquil and fathomless water.

— Albert Schweitzer

There is neither happiness nor misery in the world; there is only the comparison of one state to another, nothing more. He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness. We must have felt what it is to die, that we may appreciate the enjoyments of life.

— Alexandre Dumas

Sometimes, only one person is missing, and the whole world seems depopulated.

— Alphonse de Lamartine

Grief knits two hearts in closer bonds than happiness ever can; and common sufferings are far stronger links than common joys.

— Alphonse de Lamartine

Grief is the agony of an instant, the indulgence of grief the blunder of a life.

— Benjamin Disraeli

For everything there is a season,
And a time for every matter under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
A time to keep, and a time to throw away;
A time to tear, and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate,
A time for war, and a time for peace.

— Bible, Ecclesiastes

The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, not to anticipate the future, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.

— Buddha

Human life consists in mutual service. No grief, pain, misfortune, or ‘broken heart,’ is excuse for cutting off one’s life while any power of service remains. But when all usefulness is over, when one is assured of an unavoidable and imminent death, it is the simplest of human rights to choose a quick and easy death in place of a slow and horrible one.

— Charlotte Perkins Gilman, suicide note, August 17, 1935

Like the other stages of grief, saying goodbye is not as easy as it sounds. Saying goodbye requires us to make our loss a memory.

— Donnie D. Davis, Getting the Axe Without Losing Your Head

Like the other stages of grief, saying goodbye is not as easy as it sounds. Saying goodbye requires us to make our loss a memory.

— Donnie D. Davis, Getting the Axe Without Losing Your Head

One does not weep for those who die, particularly when they have lived a full life. And I doubt in any case whether the gauge of love and sorrow is in the tears that are shed in the first days of mourning. People who remain with you in your daily life, even though they are no longer physically present, who are frequently in your mind, often mentioned, part of your laughter, part of your joy—they are the people you really miss. They are the people from whom you are never quite separated. You do not need to walk heavily all your life to really miss people.

— Eleanor Roosevelt, April 14, 1953, “My Day.”

Parting is all we know of heaven and all we need of hell.

— Emily Dickinson

The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.

— Henri J. M. Nouwen

When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving much advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.

— Henri Nouwen

His grief he will not forget; but it will not darken his heart, it will teach him wisdom.

— J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.

— J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

Joy comes, grief goes, we know not how.

— James Russell Lowell

Grief is really just all the love you want to give, but cannot. All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.

— Jamie Anderson

As with every meaningful life experience, goodbye is the hardest part. It is necessary to feel closure, and it is necessary to go on to another day.

— Jennifer Sutton Holder, Parting

I guess I just process death differently than some folks. Realizing you’re not going to see that person again is always the most difficult part about it. But that feeling settles, and then you are glad you had that person in your life, and then the happiness and the sadness get all swirled up inside you. And then you’re this great, awful candy bar, walking around in a pair of shoes.

— John Prine

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.

— Kahlil Gibran

I mourn in grey, grey as the sleeted wind the bled shades of twilight, gunmetal, battleships, industrial paint.

— Marge Piercy

The best way to cheer yourself is to try to cheer somebody else up.

— Mark Twain

Grief can take care of itself, but to get the full value of joy, you must have somebody to divide it with.

— Mark Twain

Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us, even in the leafless winter, … I am thinking now of grief and getting past it. I feel my boots trying to leave the ground, I feel my heart pumping hard. I want to think again of dangerous and noble things. I want to be light and frolicsome. I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing, as though I had wings.

— Mary Oliver, Starlings in Winter

I would never trust a man who didn’t cry; he wouldn’t be human.

— Norman Schwartzkopf

Bitter are the tears of a child: Sweeten them.
Deep are the thoughts of a child: Quiet them.
Sharp is the grief of a child: Take it from him.
Soft is the heart of a child: Do not harden it.

— Pamela Glenconner

Healing comes from letting there be room for all of “this” to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.

— Pema Chödrön
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