quotations about grief
Grief never mended no broken bones.
CHARLES DICKENS, Sketches by Boz
There is this difference between the grief of youth and that of old age: youth's burden is lightened by as much of it as another shares; old age may give and give, but the sorrow remains the same.
O. HENRY, "The Count and the Wedding Guest"
The greatest griefs are those we cause ourselves.
Grief teaches the steadiest minds to waver.
- Let grief distract the sufferer's breast,
- And night obscure his way;
- They hasten him to endless rest,
- And everlasting day.
EMILY BRONTE, A Day Dream
I tell you, hopeless grief is passionless.
ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING, Sonnets
Waste not fresh tears over old griefs.
EURIPIDES, Alexander [fragment]
- Joys as winged dreams fly fast,
- Why should sadness longer last?
- Grief is but a wound to woe;
- Gentlest fair, mourn, mourn no moe.
JOHN FLETCHER, The Queen of Corinth
We postpone the finality of heartbreak by clinging to hope. Though this might be acceptable during early or transitional stages of grief, ultimately it is no way to live. We need both hands free to embrace life and accept love, and that's impossible if one hand has a death grip on the past.
KRISTIN ARMSTRONG, O Magazine, Feb. 2007
- Grief is fantastical, and loves the dead,
- And the apparel of the grave.
LORD BYRON, The Two Foscari
Grief is itself a med'cine.
Grief fades like a wrinkle on the wave.
PAUL FORT, "The Reeds Around the Pond"
Grief is a healthy emotion, and it's healthy to embrace it. By accepting loss, we clarify our values and the meaning of our lives.
It is the peculiar nature of the world to go on spinning no matter what sort of heartbreak is happening.
SUE MONK KIDD, The Secret Life of Bees
Small leisure have the poor for grief.
JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER, "The Witch's Daughter"
My grief was like a mountain that hid all of heaven from me.
MACRINA WIEDERKEHR, The Song of the Seed
Grief does not expire like a candle or the beacon on a lighthouse. It simply changes temperature. It becomes a kind of personal weather system. Snow settles in the liver. The bowels grow thick with humidity. Ice congeals in the stomach. Frost spiderwebs in the lungs. The heart fills with warm rain that turns to mist and evaporates through a colder artery.
- Grief comes, a giantess, with strength to bind;
- She grips our hand and glares into our eyes;
- If we but kiss her mouth, she daily dies,
- Fades into air, and leaves a flower behind.
WILLIAM WILSEY MARTIN, "Grief"
What is called happiness is an abstract idea, composed of various ideas of pleasure; for he who has but a moment of pleasure is not a happy man, in like manner that a moment of grief constitutes not a miserable one.
VOLTAIRE, A Philosophical Dictionary
- Time ebbs, but Grief abides--
- Grim flotsam of Life's tides.
NELLIE SEELYA EVANS, "On the Shore"
- There is not unmitigated ill in the sharpest of this world's sorrows;
- I touch not the sore of thy guilt; but of human griefs I counsel thee,
- Cast off the weakness of regret, and gird thee to redeem thy loss:
- Thou has gained, in the furnace of affliction, self-knowledge, patience and humility,
- And these be as precious ore, that waiteth the skill of the coiner:
- Despise not the blessings of adversity, nor the gain thou hast earned so hardly,
- And now thou hast drained the bitter, take heed that thou lose not the sweet.
MARTIN FARQUHAR TUPPER, Proverbial Philosophy
Grief and guilt. A powerful combination. Guilt like a liquid, a thin liquor, seeping everywhere, informing everything, saturating the whole--corrosive, like seawater, scented with the rich stench of ordure and corruption, and carrying with it hard, abrasive shards of grief.
SIMON MAWER, The Gospel of Judas
- So life discloses--
- Howe'er the pathway curve or turn--
- New hopes that rise, new stars that burn
- In changing splendor night or day;
- New joys that drive old griefs away.
ANDREW DOWNING, "Among the Roses"
I'd sooner have one real grief on my mind than twenty false. It's better to know one's robbed than to think one's going to be murdered.
- Self carries grief as a pack mule carries the side bags,
- being careful between the trees to leave extra room.
JANE HIRSHFIELD, "Burlap Sack"
- While I am compassed round
- With mirth, my soul lies hid in shades of grief,
- Whence, like the bird of night, with half-shut eyes,
- She peeps, and sickens at the sight of day.
JOHN DRYDEN, The Rival Ladies
People talk as if grief were just a feeling -- as if it weren't the continually renewed shock of setting out again and again on familiar roads and being brought up short by the grim frontier post that now blocks them.
C. S. LEWIS, letter to Sir Henry Willink, December 3, 1959
Slowly, grief tires and sleeps, but never dies. In time it grows used to its prison, and a relationship of respect develops between prisoner and jailer.
It's the great mystery of human life that old grief passes gradually into quiet tender joy.
FYODOR DOSTOEVSKY, The Brothers Karamazov