Grief Quotes That Provide Comfort In Times Of Loss

Updated October 6, 2022by BetterHelp Editorial Team

When someone you know is grieving, you want to comfort them and make them feel better. But in times of grief, our words can have the exact opposite effect. Instead of providing comfort and solace, they can make a grieving friend feel even worse. If a friend or acquaintance is experiencing grief, and you're not sure what to say, here are bereavement and grief quotes and poems that can provide much-needed comfort if you are grieving or trying to figure out what to say to a friend in the grieving process. 

Not Sure What To Say To A Loved One In Grief?

What to Never Say In Times Of Grief

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and David Kessler have made extraordinary contributions to the subject of grief. And in their extensive work, they've gathered up some of the worst things you can say to someone who is in the grieving process. Of course, when we say the wrong thing, it's not because we are callous or careless, it's simply because we don't know better.

So, while it might seem counterintuitive to first focus on the wrong things to say, it's a helpful approach to begin with. That's because when you know what not to say, you can avoid these hurtful words and find something more fitting and appropriate, including comforting grief quotes and poems. 

  • "I know how you feel." When we say this, we mean it in the best way, but the truth is, most of us have no idea how someone else experiences grief - even if we have experienced death and loss, too. That's because everyone's experience is unique and specific to them. The truth is, we don't know how another person feels.
  • "At least he or she lived a long life, and didn't die young." While the intention is good, these words can be hurtful. Sure, it's beautiful that they lived a long life, but that doesn't mean you should grieve them less. Death is always a great loss no matter when it occurs.
  • "Be strong." This might work for a boxer going back into the ring, but for someone who's grieving? This can send the wrong message. Being strong calls to mind the British call to "Keep a stiff upper lip." But what does this translate to? When you tell someone to "be strong," you're essentially telling them that having sad feelings, or any feelings, is weak. But there's nothing weak about coming face-to-face with intense and difficult emotions. In fact, it takes incommensurable strength and great courage to feel grief and allow it to take its course.

In fact, emotional responses are not only necessary but healthy and healing. They come when a person has relaxed enough to let go and to work through his (her) sorrow. They are the natural bleeding of an emotional wound, carrying the poison out of the system. Here lies the road to recovery."

Does that mean grief has to be expressed with tears? No, of course not. But it does mean we should provide a non-judgmental space for those who need to do so. There are also grief quotes to help those who are grieving find some words of comfort. In addition, being a compassionate presence for people who are grieving is probably one of the most important things we can do. 

That's why Kessler says that one of the best things to say when someone is in grief is nothing. However, you can be there for them, whether that be physically or emotionally. After all, when you see someone in such pain and suffering, you want to alleviate and console them. You want to make them better and to fix the situation. However, it's important to remember that grief isn't a problem you need to fix. It's a valid response to intense loss. What's more, it's an experience that we need to honor and respect.

And that's why those three sayings we just discussed are usually so inappropriate. They try to do away with grief and dismiss it. That may be because it's uncomfortable to sit with grief. And to sit with someone who is grieving.

"Grief is neither an illness nor a pathological condition, but rather a highly personal and normal response to life-changing events, a natural process that can lead to healing and personal growth. The transition through this difficult time is a courageous journey."

Bereavement Quotes And Poems For Times Of Grief

It's important to acknowledge grief and allow it to run its natural course, which includes the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance). This doesn't mean you shouldn't say anything, especially if you do feel called to offer words of consolation and comfort. But even if you want to reach out, it doesn't necessarily mean you know what words to say.

And that's perfectly alright. Sometimes, we just don't know what to say. And if that's the case, here are some inspiring grief quotes that can be very helpful in times of sadness.

On the one hand, they act as a small window into the experience of grief and offer up a small fraction of what someone may be experiencing. 

On The Loss Of The individual

Philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer, offers this deeply poignant bereavement quote to consider:

"The deep pain that is felt at the death of every friendly soul arises from the feeling that there is in every individual something which is inexpressible, peculiar to him alone, and is, therefore, absolutely and irretrievably lost."

Schopenhauer reminds us that the death of someone can't be fixed by filling in space with something, or someone, else. For example, when parents lose a child, people say, "You can always have another one." Or, when a wife loses her husband, sure, she can remarry, but that doesn't erase the fact that someone is lost.

So, when you want to offer your condolences to someone in grief, one way to approach the situation is to honor the person who has passed on. You can also bring old photographs of them.

Of course, these words and actions can and will never bring the person back, but it does honor the fact that they were absolutely unique and irreplaceable. And while these aspects are what make a loss so profound, they can also provide comfort during times of grief. Nancy Cobb's little bereavement poem:

"Remembering is an act of resurrection,

Each repetition is a vital layer of mourning,

In memory of those we are sure to meet again."

On the Unfathomable Nature Of Grief

But far from being academic, Lewis' writings are honest reflections on loss following the death of his beloved wife, Joy Davidman. What makes them so powerful is how brutally honest Lewis is. He was a devout Christian. However, he doesn't hide behind trite religious cliches. Instead, he grapples with grief, and how even his devotion couldn't diminish grief.

"Talk to me about the truth of religion, and I'll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion, and I'll listen submissively. But don't come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don't understand."

Why would Lewis, a devout Christian, and erudite scholar, say something so extreme?

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler write in On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss, "When a loss hits us, we have not only the particular loss to mourn but also the shattered beliefs and assumptions of what life should be."

Even for Lewis, grief was overwhelming and all-encompassing, and something that all of his former beliefs couldn't explain. This serves as a tender reminder that grief doesn't discriminate and that it can be a powerful force to experience. Therefore, when someone is grieving, it might be wise not to offer what Lewis calls "consolations of religion" because it might come across as insensitive and that you don't understand.

On Why Living With Grief Is So Hard

However, the annals came up empty. It includes 150 "devastatingly beautiful poems that embrace the pain and heartbreak of mourning," including Young's poems, along with those of other writers. One of Young's bereavement poems called, "Redemption Song," depicts why the continuation of life makes grief more poignant.

"Finally fall.

At last the mist,

Heat's haze, we woke

These past weeks with

Has lifted. We find

Ourselves chill, a briskness

We hug ourselves in.

Frost is greying the ground.

Grief might be easy

If there wasn't still

Such beauty - would be far

Simpler if the silver

Maple didn't thrust

It's leaves to flame,

Trusting that spring

Will find it again.

All this might be easier if

There wasn't a song

Still lifting us above it,

If wind didn't trouble

My mind like water.

I half expect to see you

Fill the autumn air

Like breath…"

On How Grief Can Be Depressing

One of the fives stages of grief is depression, and the American poet, Emily Dickinson, captured this phenomenon in the following bereavement poem called, "After great pain, a formal feeling comes-"

"After great pain, a formal feeling comes -

The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs-

The stiff Heart questions was it He, that bore,

And Yesterday, or Centuries before?

The Feet, mechanical, go round-

Of Ground, or Air, or Ought-

A Wooden way

Regardless grown,

A Quartz contentment, like a stone-

This is the Hour of Lead-

Remembered, if outlives,

As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow-

First-Chill-then Stupor-then the letting go-"

Why is this poem helpful? For one simple reason: when another person experiences grief, it can be difficult to understand how they feel. What's more, when they move into depression, it can be hard to reach them or relate to them. However, this poem reminds us that this is not only a normal progression of grief, but also nothing to be alarmed at, or something to try and "fix."

On Being There For Someone In Grief

Not Sure What To Say To A Loved One In Grief?

Poet, Kelly Roper, has the perfect words to offer someone in times of grief with her poem called, Whatever You Need

"Whatever you need,

Whatever we can do.

We want you to know

That we're here for you.

If you just want to talk

Or need a shoulder to cry on,

We want you to know that

We're here for you to rely on.

However lonely you feel,

You definitely are not alone.

We are only as far away

As the nearest phone.

So don't hesitate to call,

No matter what you need.

We'll rush to your side

With all Heaven's speed."

When someone experiences grief as a result of great loss and death, it can be difficult to know what to say. And this is completely normal and understandable. However, these grief quotes and bereavement poems can offer some inspiration and guidance when it comes to offering comfort and solace when you’re missing someone.

If you'd like to understand grief further and how you can support your loved ones when they experience it, here are the four books we mentioned in this article:

Professional Support In Times Of Grief

We've discussed that grief isn't an illness or problem that has to be fixed. However, grief is a powerful experience that challenges the individual deeply. And sometimes, having a supportive professional therapist can help someone move through grief.

The professional therapist doesn't try to help the individual "get over" grief. Instead, they help the individual process and understand their own unique experience of grief - to see that what they are experiencing is safe and normal, even though it is incredibly difficult. Along with words of comfort through bereavement quotes and bereavement poems, a professional therapist may be helpful during times of grief. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp counselors, from people experiencing similar issues.

Counselor Reviews

"Sarah is a kind person that listens intently, focuses on issues, and then helps find successful strategies to deal with those issues. Never once did I feel that she was judging me or talking down to me. She was easy for me to open up too, she was professional, and she took me seriously. Together we discussed issues of loss and grief from the passing of my father, which had become more than I could handle alone. She not only validated my feelings of loss, but she also helped me find ways to mitigate those feelings, break them down into their roots and causes then address those. Coping with grief and loss is hard work, but Sarah helped me find the tools I needed within myself to do that hard work and ultimately find success. I am a stronger person now. I am happy and confident. I may not know what is around the next corner, but I know that whatever it is, I can handle it."

"Rachael has been an invaluable partner while I worked through some difficult questions and choices following my husband's death. She is kind, thoughtful and listened to my questions, fears and doubts. She challenged me with thought provoking questions to help me work through my issues. I am forever grateful that she was in my life during this extremely challenging time."


We have discussed words to say when someone is grieving, and combined with your presence, compassionate and non-judgmental presence; you can offer great solace in times of grief. There is support for you to lean on.

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