Bereavement Quotes For The Occasions That Need Them

Updated October 7, 2022 by BetterHelp Editorial Team

The only permanence of life is that it changes all the time. Life as we know it ends too, and when it happens that a loved one gets snatched away from us, it often is a devastating, if not crippling experience.

Grieving is Extremely Painful - Learn How to Cope

Take solace from, and gain a new understanding of death, grief, bereavement, and loss with this selection of beautiful grief quotes and poems.

On Grief:

"Grief can destroy you - or focus you. You can decide a relationship was all for nothing if it had to end in death, and you're alone. Or you can realize that every moment of it had more meaning than you dared to recognize at the time, so much meaning it scared you, so you just lived, just took for granted the love and laughter of each day, and didn't allow yourself to consider the sacredness of it. But when it's over, and you're alone, you begin to see that it wasn't just a movie and a dinner together, not just watching sunsets together, not just scrubbing a floor or washing dishes together or worrying over a high electric bill. It was everything; it was the why of life, every event and precious moment of it. And the ache is always there, but one day, not the emptiness, because to nurture the emptiness, to take solace in it, is to disrespect the gift of life." - Dean R. Koontz,  Odd Hours.

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

"We bereaved are not alone. We belong to the largest company in all the world-the company of those who have known suffering." - Helen Keller, We Bereaved

If you have ever lost a loved one, then you know exactly how it feels. And if you have not, then you cannot possibly imagine it." - Lemony Snicket, The Bad Beginning (A Series Of Unfortunate Events).

"The death of a beloved is an amputation." - C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed.

"To live in hearts, we leave behind is not to die." - Thomas Campbell, Hallowed Ground.

"The weird, weird thing about devastating loss is that life actually goes on. When you're faced with a tragedy, a loss so huge that you have no idea how you can live through it, somehow, the world keeps turning, the seconds keep ticking." - James Patterson, Angel

"Do you not know that a man is not dead while his name is still spoken?" - Terry Pratchett, Going Postal

"Bad things will happen and good things too. Your life will be full of surprises. Miracles happen only where there has been suffering. So taste your grief to the fullest. Don't try and press it down. Don't hide from it. Don't escape. It is life too. It is the truth. But it will pass and time will put strange honey in the bitterness. That's the way life goes." - Ben Okri, Dangerous Love

"All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on." - Henry Havelock Ellis.

"It is so curious; one can resist tears and 'behave' very well in the hardest hours of grief. But then someone makes you a friendly sign behind a window, or one notices that a flower that was a bud only yesterday has suddenly blossomed, or a letter slips from a drawer…and everything collapses." - Colette, from American Widow Project.

"I let it go. It's like swimming against the current. It exhausts you. After a while, whoever you are, you just have to let go, and the river brings you home." - Joanne Harris, Five Quarters of the Orange.

"The best thing one can do when it's raining is to let it rain." - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

"You gave me a forever within the numbered days…" - John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

"Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way, so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you're there." - Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

"I would always look for clues to her in books and poems, I realized. I would always search for echoes of the lost person, the scraps of words and breath, the silken ties that say, Look: she existed." - Meghan O'Rourke, Story's End.

"No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning.." - C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed.

Grieving is Extremely Painful - Learn How to Cope

"What happens when you let go when your strength leaves you, and you sink into darkness, when there's nothing that you or anyone else can do, no matter how desperate you are, no matter how you try? Perhaps it's then, when you have neither pride nor power, that you are saved, brought to an unimaginably great reward." - Mark Halpern.

"Sometimes the hardest part isn't letting go but rather learning to start over." - Nicole Sobon

"We fear death, we shudder at life's instability, we grieve to see the flowers wilt again and again, and the leaves fall, and in our hearts, we know that we, too, are transitory and will soon disappear. When artists create pictures and thinkers search for laws and formulate thoughts, it is to salvage something from the great dance of death, to make something last longer than we do." - Hermann Hesse, Narcissus, and Goldmund.

"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

“The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you’ll learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.” - Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler

- George Eliot

“Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer a great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them.” - Leo Tolstoy

"We do not have to rely on memories to recapture the spirit of those we have loved and lost – they live within our souls in some perfect sanctuary which even death cannot destroy." - Nan Witcomb

“What we have once enjoyed and deeply loved we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.” - Helen Keller

“While grief is fresh, every attempt to divert only irritates. You must wait till it be digested, and then amusement will dissipate the remains of it.” - Samuel Johnson.

“When we love deeply, we mourn deeply; extraordinary grief is an expression of extraordinary love. Grief and love mirror each other; one is not possible without the other.” - Joanne Cacciatore, Bearing the Unbearable: Love, Loss, and the Heartbreaking Path of Grief

“Where you used to be, there is a hole in the world, which I find myself constantly walking around in the daytime, and falling in at night.” - Edna St. Vincent Millay

“Go in peace! I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.” - J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

“Ten years, she's dead, and I still find myself some mornings reaching for the phone to call her. She could no more be gone than gravity or the moon.” - Mary Karr

“The song is ended but the melody lingers on.” - Irving Berlin

“Death ends a life, not a relationship.” - Mitch Albom, Tuesdays with Morrie

"Sometimes, only one person is missing, and the whole world seems depopulated."    - Alphonse de Lamartine

“Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s 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

“Come back. Even as a shadow, even as a dream.” - Euripides

“Say not in grief ‘he is no more’ but in thankfulness that he was.” - Hebrew proverb

“You believe you could not live with the pain. Such pain is not lived with. It is only endured. I am sorry.” - Erin Morgenstern

“Grieving doesn’t make you imperfect. It makes you human.” - Sarah Dessen

"The melody that the loved one played upon the piano of your life will never be played quite that way again, but we must not close the keyboard and allow the instrument to gather dust. We must seek out other artists of the spirit, new friends who gradually will help us to find the road to life again, who will walk the road with us." - Joshua Loth Liebman

Grief Poetry

From The Sky is Everywhere, Jandy Nelson

grief is a house
where the chairs
have forgotten how to hold us
the mirrors how to reflect us
the walls how to contain us

grief is a house that disappears
each time someone knocks at the door
or rings the bell
a house that blows into the air
at the slightest gust
that buries itself deep in the ground
while everyone is sleeping


where the younger sister
will grow older than the older one
where the doors
no longer let you in
or out

When I Think Of Death

Maya Angelou

When I think of death, and of late the idea has come with
alarming frequency, I seem at peace with the idea that a day
will dawn when I will no longer be among those living in this
valley of strange humors.

I can accept the idea of my own demise, but I am unable to
accept the death of anyone else.
I find it impossible to let a friend or relative go into that
country of no return.

Disbelief becomes my close companion, and anger follows in
its wake.

I answer the heroic question 'Death, where is thy sting? ' with
'it is here in my heart and mind and memories.'
"On this bald hill, the new year hones its edge.
Faceless and pale as china
The round sky goes on minding its business.
Your absence is inconspicuous;
Nobody can tell what I lack."

- Sylvia Plath, from Parliament Hill Fields.

On Death

Kahlil Gibran

You would know the secret of death.
But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?
The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.
If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.
For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.

In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;
And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow, your heart dreams of spring.
Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.
Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour.
Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king?
Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?

For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?

Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.

If Bereavement And Grief Become Too Much

Facing our own mortality, or the death of a loved one is incredibly hard. If it all feels like it's becoming too much, let us match you with a grief and bereavement counselor, or a therapist qualified to help you through this difficult time.

With BetterHelp, you can talk with a licensed therapist and get support during the grieving process from the privacy of your own home.

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