Thoughtful words can bring comfort when you need them most.
Losing a loved one is heartbreaking — the grief you experience is a normal part of dealing with loss.
While many of us know grieving is part of life, when we’re experiencing it, it can feel like it might never go away.
During times of grief, you might feel like you’re alone or that no one understands what you’re going through.
But according to The Recovery Village, about 2.5 million people die each year in the United States, and each of those people leaves behind an average of 5 grieving people.
If you’re grieving, sometimes just hearing or reading words of comfort can bring you hope and remind you that you’re not alone.
“Life is full of grief, to exactly the degree we allow ourselves to love other people.”
— Orson Scott Card, “Shadow of the Giant”
“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”
“I will not say: Do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.”
— J.R.R. Tolkien, “The Return of the King”
“It takes strength to make your way through grief, to grab hold of life and let it pull you forward.”
— Patti Davis
“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.”
— C.S. Lewis, “A Grief Observed”
“You care so much you feel as though you will bleed to death with the pain of it.”
— J.K. Rowling, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”
“Without you in my arms, I feel an emptiness in my soul. I find myself searching the crowds for your face — I know it’s an impossibility, but I cannot help myself.”
— Nicholas Sparks, “Message in a Bottle”
“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.”
— Elizabeth Gilbert, “Eat, Pray, Love”
“Give the sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break.”
— William Shakespeare, “Macbeth”
“When our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds of despair, and when our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, let us remember that there is a creative force in this universe, working to pull down the gigantic mountains of evil, a power that is able to make a way out of no way and transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.
“Grieving doesn’t make you imperfect. It makes you human.”
– Sarah Dessen, “The Truth About Forever”
“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”
“There’s a bit of magic in everything, and some loss to even things out.”
— Lou Reed, “Magic And Loss”
“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.”
— Maya Angelou
“Everyone grieves in different ways. For some, it could take longer or shorter. I do know it never disappears. An ember still smolders inside me. Most days, I don’t notice it, but, out of the blue, it’ll flare to life.”
— Maria V. Snyder, “Strom Glass”
“Life has to end. Love doesn’t.”
— Mitch Albom, “The Five People You Meet in Heaven”
“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 to 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.'”
— Maya Angelou, “When I Think of Death”
“Death ends a life, not a relationship.”
— Mitch Albom, “Tuesdays with Morrie”
“We must know the pain of loss; because if we never knew it, we would have no compassion for others, and we would become monsters of self-regard, creatures of unalloyed self-interest. The terrible pain of loss teaches humility to our prideful kind, has the power to soften uncaring hearts, to make a better person of a good one.”
— Dean Koontz, “The Darkest Evening Of The Year”
When you’re overwhelmed with sadness due to your loss, you might be wondering if it’s something more like depression.
In some ways, depression and sadness might look the same, but they have some unique differences — particularly concerning treatment and outcome.
For example, most of the time, grief doesn’t require treatment like depression does. Depression is typically treated with medication, therapy, or a combination of both.
Grief, on the other hand, takes time and patience for healing and recovery. Resources — such as counseling and support groups — might be helpful.
The length of time and intensity of grief and depression might also differ. Depression can last for weeks or months, often interfering with work, school, and relationships.
While there’s no timetable for how long a person grieves, unlike depression, the intensity of your feelings tend to lessen over time.
Hearing words of comfort and encouragement while you’re grieving may help you feel supported and not alone.
But what do you do if your grief seems intense and you’re not sure how to handle it?
The newest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) and the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-11) include criteria for a new mental health condition — prolonged, or complicated, grief.
If your feelings of grief seem more intense after 6 months, and you notice it has started to interfere with day-to-day life, you might be experiencing complicated grief.
While there’s no timetable on grief, if you feel like you just can’t “shake” these feelings, and it’s been more than 6 months, consider reaching out for help. You can start by talking to someone you trust or your family doctor, if you have one.
If you need additional help, consider reaching out to a mental health professional who specializes in grief. You can use these tools to find a pro:
- American Psychiatric Association
- American Psychological Association
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America
- Psych Central
If telehealth is a better fit for you, online therapy might be a good option.
Online support groups might also be a great way to connect with others who have gone through or are going through a similar experience.
- Grieving.com forums
- Actively Moving Forward, a national network for grieving young adults
- GriefShare support groups
- The Compassionate Friends, to find a meeting locator for people who’ve lost a child
- Helping Kids Grieve, a toolkit