Bereavement Quotes That Provide Comfort In Times Of Grief
By Danni Peck
Updated October 17, 2019
Reviewer Deborah Horton
If you've ever experienced grief, you know how heavy the deep sorrow, sadness, or anguish can feel. A grieving person often feels alone, but a little bit of comfort can help them see that they're not.
Several factors may determine how a person chooses to address grief. For example, some people seek spiritual advice from pastors or other members of the ministry. Others engage in some form of counseling. All of these options offer an avenue to discuss feelings and address concerns during this challenging time.
It's important to note that not everyone experiences grief in the same way. While one person may be angry after a traumatic experience, another person who went through the same event may be depressed or stuck in disbelief. In other words, there's no right or wrong way to grieve. Furthermore, being there for someone who is grieving does not mean rushing the process. Instead, it's important to be supportive and offer help or encouragement.
The Stages of Grief
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross studied near-death experiences and authored a groundbreaking book called On Death and Dying. In this book, she discusses her theory on the five stages of grief, which is also known as the Kubler-Ross model.
According to Kubler-Ross, individuals experience five distinct stages of grief.
Some people go through these stages in the order listed above, but some don't. Additionally, depending on the circumstances, moving back and forth between the stages is not uncommon. If you or someone you know experiences this, it's okay. We all process things differently.
Knowing What to Say
Trying to find the right words to comfort someone who is grieving can be difficult. Most people want to be encouraging and offer support, but in times of distress and sadness, the fear of saying the wrong thing might mean they don't say anything at all.
We've all been there at one time or another--we say something with the best of intentions, and the words seem to come out all wrong. Perhaps you've told someone not to worry or "It will be okay," even though you didn't believe it yourself. Don't beat yourself up. Simply being there for someone in his or her time of grief does more for them than you can imagine.
Even the most talkative person may feel at a loss for words when it comes to encouraging someone who is grieving. Remember, it's not about having the perfect words or having a long, drawn out conversation. Sometimes, listening has the greatest impact. While it's impossible to say the perfect thing every time, there are some phrases to avoid.
Some of the following statements may come from a good place, but they may also come across as offensive or insensitive. Luckily, there are ways to rephrase the same sentiment for a more positive response.
- "I know how you feel." It's totally possible that you've been through the same thing, but no one experiences grief in the exact same way. We all react differently to life events, so you may not know how they feel.
An alternative statement would be: "I understand this is a difficult time for you. Would you like to talk about it?" This direct statement followed by an open-ended question does two things. First, it allows you to acknowledge that someone is hurting and going through a hard time. Second, it opens the door to start a dialogue about the situation without being pushy. It lets the grieving person know that you have empathy and are available to talk.
- Whatever you do, please don't ever say, "At least he lived a long life and didn't die young." If you've ever lost a loved one, you know that you still want more time with them, no matter how old they were when they passed.
You might want to focus on something positive instead. For example, you might say, "I imagine you have some beautiful memories of your time together!" This helps redirect the person's thoughts to happier moments and may be a way to let them begin talking about feelings.
- "I know you may not think so, but you've got this. Be strong!" In times of grief, the last thing the bereaved wants to think about is how strong he or she is. This is a time of hurt, questions, frustration, and even fear. You can say the same thing in a different way to get your point across.
For example, try something like, "I know this is a difficult time for you. Although it may feel like it, you're not alone." Grief is usually a very lonely state. Offering assurance that the individual is not alone can help alleviate some of the fear associated with bereavement. It may also make the person feel more at ease discussing his or her feelings with you.
When You Simply Don't Know What to Say
The comfort that comes from the presence of a friend is often underrated. Think about a time when you felt lonely or afraid. Would having a friend or relative with you have helped to relieve some of that distress? Most people would emphatically say "yes."
Knowing this, don't underestimate the power of your presence. When you don't know what to say, don't say anything. Just be there. Be an ear to listen, a hand to hold, and a shoulder to cry on. Just be there.
Quotes for Times of Grief
Grief is not a broken toy that can be fixed, nor is it an illness that can be cured. It's a very personal, normal response to life-changing events. Although the transition may be difficult, allowing the process to happen naturally is often the best way to support healing.
Finding relief in the words of others may help as well. Even if someone needs to be alone, a written word or a thought remembered can help ease some of the pain. The following quotes may be supportive during a time of grief.
"When loved ones live in our hearts, they never die."- Thomas Campbell
"Should you shield the valleys from the windstorms, you would never see the beauty of their canyons." -Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
"For death is no more than a turning of us over from time to eternity."- William Penn
"Though lovers be lost, love shall not; And death shall have no dominion."- Dylan Thomas
"Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow; but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them." - Leon Tolstoy
"The risk of love is loss, and the price of loss is grief -- But the pain of grief is only a shadow when compared with the pain of never risking love."
Hillary Stanton Zunin
"Grief is not a disorder, a disease, or a sign of weakness. It is an emotional, physical, and spiritual necessity, the price you pay for love. The only cure for grief is to grieve."
In addition to reading quotes of encouragement, there are several books about grief that may be helpful, including the four listed below:
- A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis
- The Art of Losing: Poems of Grief and Healing by Kevin Young
- Grief's Courageous Journey: A Workbook by Sandi Caplan
- On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss by Elisabeth Kugler-Ross and David Kessler
If you're the one who is grieving grief support groups are also a great place to connect with others who have experienced or are dealing with a loss. These groups offer a safe environment to explore your feelings while encouraging others.
Depending on the severity of grief, you may need to reach out for professional help. There are several options available. In-person counseling is an option for individuals who want to connect with someone on a personal level.
You may also want to consider online therapy services, such as those offered by BetterHelp. At BetterHelp, our team of licensed, accredited counselors offers professional counseling that is affordable and accessible to anyone with an internet connection. We're dedicated to helping anyone who struggles with life's challenges, so they can get help anytime and anywhere.
Our counselors come from diverse backgrounds with a wealth of experience, and they're ready to help you cope with grief and life's other challenges in healthy ways. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp counselors from people experiencing similar issues.
"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."
Processing grief takes time. When you feel alone, time with loved ones, quotes, and books may offer comfort. If additional help is needed, you might want to consider reaching out to a supportive counselor. No matter what you're feeling, help is here.