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No grief has a right to immortality. That ground belongs to joy, to hope, to faith.

HENRY WARD BEECHER, Proverbs from Plymouth Pulpit

Shake hands with Pain, give greeting unto Grief,
Those angels in disguise, and thy glad soul
From height to height, from star to shining star,
Shall climb and claim blest immortality.


It does not require a flood of grief to drown a child's heart.

AUSTIN O'MALLEY, Keystones of Thought

It is better to drink of deep griefs than to taste shallow pleasures.

WILLIAM HAZLITT, Characteristics

In life there is not time to grieve long.

T. S. ELIOT, Murder in the Cathedral

Grief, a type of sadness that most often occurs when you have lost someone you love, is a sneaky thing, because it can disappear for a long time, and then pop back up when you least expect it.

DANIEL HANDLER (as Lemony Snicket), The Carnivorous Carnival

There is a kind of indignation excited in us when one likens our grief to his own. The soul is jealous of its experiences, and does not like pride to be humbled by the thought that they are common. For, though we know that the world groans and travails in pain, and has done so for ages, yet a groan heard by our ears is a very different thing from a groan uttered by our mouth. The sorrows of other men seem to us like clouds of rain that empty themselves in the distance, and whose long-travelling thunder comes to us mellowed and subdued; but our own troubles are like a storm bursting right overhead, and sending down its bolts upon us with direct plunge.


Grief chants, or, if violent or sudden, its utterance is exactly like that of physical pain.

AUSTIN O'MALLEY, Keystones of Thought

Joy and grief are things of great hazard and danger in the life of man: The one breaks the heart; the other intoxicates the head.

BENJAMIN WHICHCOTE, Moral and Religious Aphorisms

If my neighbors manage to survive without killing themselves, without going mad, maintaining an interest in political parties, not yielding to despair, resolutely pursuing the fight for existence, can their griefs really be genuine?

OSAMU DAZAI, No Longer Human

Ah, woe is me! Winter is come and gone,
But grief returns with the revolving year.


The closest bonds we will ever know are bonds of grief. The deepest community one of sorrow.

CORMAC MCCARTHY, All the Pretty Horses

Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it.

JOAN DIDION, The Year of Magical Thinking

Unhappiness is selfish, grief is selfish. For whom are the tears?

JEANETTE WINTERSON, Written on the Body

The darker the night, the brighter the stars,
The deeper the grief, the closer is God.

FYODOR DOSTOEVSKY, Crime and Punishment

Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break.


Grief is not just a series of events, stages, or timelines. Our society places enormous pressure on us to get over loss, to get through grief. But how long do you grieve for a husband of fifty years, a teenager killed in a car accident, a four-year-old child: a year? Five years? Forever? The loss happens in time, in fact in a moment, but its aftermath lasts a lifetime.

ELISABETH KUBLER-ROSS, On Grief and Grieving

Love is an engraved invitation to grief.


Grief can be a burden, but also an anchor. You get used to the weight, how it holds you in place.

SARAH DESSEN, The Truth About Forever

Grief is like a physical pain which must be allowed to subside somewhat on its own before medical treatment is applied.

PLUTARCH, "Consolatio Ad Uxorem"

Best Grief is Tongueless--before He'll tell--
Burn Him in the Public Square.

EMILY DICKINSON, "Grief Is a Mouse"

Grief is a most peculiar thing; we’re so helpless in the face of it. It’s like a window that will simply open of its own accord. The room grows cold, and we can do nothing but shiver. But it opens a little less each time, and a little less; and one day we wonder what has become of it.

ARTHUR GOLDEN, Memoirs of a Geisha

No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.

C. S. LEWIS, A Grief Observed

Grief is like the wake behind a boat. It starts out as a huge wave that follows close behind you and is big enough to swamp and drown you if you suddenly stop moving forward. But if you do keep moving, the big wake will eventually dissipate. And after a long time, the waters of your life get calm again, and that is when the memories of those who have left begin to shine as bright and as enduring as the stars above.

JIMMY BUFFETT, A Salty Piece of Land

Grief is natural; the absence of all feeling is undesirable, but moderation in grief should be observed, as in the face of all good or evil.

PLUTARCH, "Consolatio Ad Uxorem"

Deep grief sometimes is almost like a specific location, a coordinate on a map of time. When you are standing in that forest of sorrow, you cannot imagine that you could ever find your way to a better place. But if someone can assure you that they themselves have stood in that same place, and now have moved on, sometimes this will bring hope.


Grief does not change you.... It reveals you.

JOHN GREEN, The Fault in Our Stars

It's better to keep grief inside. Grief inside works like bees or ants, building curious and perfect structures, complicating you. Grief outside means you want something from someone, and chances are good you won't get it.

HILARY THAYER HAMANN, Anthropology of an American Girl

You do come out of it, that’s true. After a year, after five. But you don’t come out of it like a train coming out of a tunnel, bursting through the downs into sunshine and that swift, rattling descent to the Channel; you come out of it as a gull comes out of an oil-slick. You are tarred and feathered for life.

JULIAN BARNES, Flaubert's Parrot

They say time heals all wounds, but that presumes the source of the grief is finite.

CASSANDRA CLARE, Clockwork Prince

Immoderate grief is selfish, harmful, brings no advantage to either the mourner or the mourned, and dishonors the dead.

PLUTARCH, "Consolatio Ad Uxorem"

Grief is real because loss is real. Each grief has its own imprint, as distinctive and as unique as the person we lost. The pain of loss is so intense, so heartbreaking, because in loving we deeply connect with another human being, and grief is the reflection of the connection that has been lost. We think we want to avoid the grief, but really it is the pain of the loss we want to avoid. Grief is the healing process that ultimately brings us comfort in our pain.

ELISABETH KUBLER-ROSS, On Grief and Grieving

There is an art to grieving. To grieve well the loss of anyone or anything--a parent, a love, a child, an era, a home, a job--is a creative act. It takes attention and patience and courage. But many of us do not know how to grieve. We were never taught, and we don't see examples of full-bodied grieving around us. Our culture favors the fast-food model of mourning--get over it quick and get back to work; affix the bandage of "closure" and move on.

ELIZABETH LESSER, Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow

And I felt like my heart had been so thoroughly and irreparably broken that there could be no real joy again, that at best there might eventually be a little contentment. Everyone wanted me to get help and rejoin life, pick up the pieces and move on, and I tried to, I wanted to, but I just had to lie in the mud with my arms wrapped around myself, eyes closed, grieving, until I didn't have to anymore.

ANNE LAMOTT, Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year

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