18 Quotes About Mourning that May Help After a Loss
Grief can be complicated and confusing. Reading mourning quotes is a great way to learn from the experiences of others.
Finding comfort after a loss
Grief, simply put, is adjusting to a loss. It can be the loss of a loved one, a dream, a job, or a faith. It can be big or small, last for hours or years, feel as sharp as the cut of a knife or dull as a deep bruise. No matter the specific circumstances, grief is always normal.
“Grief isn’t an illness. It’s not a sign something went wrong. It’s actually a sign something is going right,” says licensed social worker and psychotherapist Abigail Nathanson, a professor of grief and trauma at New York University. “Grief is simply a part of having relationships. We’re hardwired to seek out relationships, and we’re hardwired to mourn when they end.”
Knowing that grieving is both expected and understandable is the first step to coping with the pain. “The goal of grief is not ‘How do I stop being sad?’ but ‘How do I carry this and still live my life in a meaningful way?” says Nathanson.
There is no one “right” way to grieve, nor is there a prescription for getting through it. However, there are some things that many people find helpful during the process, she says. One of the most beneficial things for people mourning any loss is to find a community of others who understand and can sympathize. One way to do that is through reading mourning quotes from people who have loved and lost and lived to talk about it.
Mourning quotes to help you cope
Find a way to memorialize loved ones
“What is lovely never dies but passes into other loveliness—stardust or seafoam, flower or winged air.” —Thomas Bailey Aldrich, writer and poet
The reason gravestones exist is to help people remember their loved ones who have passed on, but grave markers aren’t the only way to honor someone’s memory. Plant their favorite flower, scatter their ashes at their favorite place, or simply go somewhere that reminds you of them.
Look for meaning
“The timing of death, like the ending of a story, gives a changed meaning to what preceded it.” —Mary Catherine Bateson, author
Some people find it helpful to their grieving process to look for a greater meaning from their loved one’s life or loss. What did they contribute to the world? To you? Cultural or religious traditions can help in this regard, like what you can learn about grieving from Day of the Dead.
Talk to someone
“The irony of grief is that the person you most want to talk to about it is no longer here.” —Anonymous
Grieving is normal, but if you get stuck in the process and find your daily life suffering, it’s time to talk to someone about it. A close friend or family member can help, or look for a therapist trained in grief. (The pandemic has been hard on everyone; check out these tips from therapists for coping with Covid-19-related grief.)
Be patient with yourself
“Grief is like the ocean. It comes in waves, sometimes calm and sometimes overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.” —Vicki Harrison, author
Grief doesn’t flow in a logical progression from harder to easier. It can wax and wane for years and then feel suddenly intense again when you pass a milestone without your loved one—like getting married years after your father died. Mourning quotes like this one from Harrison are a reminder that feeling grief again doesn’t mean you’re moving backward.
Love and loss are intertwined
“Irrespective of age, we mourn for those loved and lost. Mourning is one of the deepest expressions of pure love.” —Russell M. Nelson, religious leader
It’s the most poignant type of pain: If you didn’t love someone so deeply, it wouldn’t hurt so much to lose them. You can’t have love without grief, nor grief without love. (Here’s how to cope with anger and grief.)
Grief can be very complicated
“Grief in two parts: the loss of one life, the remaking of another.” —Anonymous
Mourning is often not a simple process. People are complicated, and so is the grieving of them. Regardless of how you feel about the person and their death (and it’s appropriate to feel many conflicting feelings), their life changed yours in some way. It may help you to identify those ways, both good and bad.
Accept the process
“The only cure for grief is to grieve.” —Earl Grollman, writer
It’s true that there’s no wrong way to grieve, and for many people, anger and denial are part of the process. The key is to keep moving forward rather than ignoring your grief or pushing it away. Grief will find a way out. (This is what not to say to someone after they miscarry.)
Look for signs
“Perhaps they are not stars in the sky but rather openings where our loved ones shine down to let us know they are happy.” —Traditional Inuit saying
Regardless of whether or not you believe in heaven or any type of afterlife, many people find comfort in looking for signs that remind them of their loved ones. You might think of them after finding a lucky penny or spotting a winking star, for instance.
Learn from your suffering
“If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness and the willingness to remain vulnerable.” —Anne Morrow Lindbergh, author
It’s often the biggest storms in our lives that teach us the most important lessons. Ponder what your loved one may have wanted to teach you or what positive ways you can grow and change from the experience. (If you find comfort in these mourning quotes, you may also find some inspiration in these quotes about mountains that can help you conquer personal hurdles.)
Feel it in your body
“Grief is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give and cannot. All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and the hollow part in your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.” —Jamie Anderson, professional snowboarder
It’s not unusual to feel grief physically, inside your body, like a bruised heart or a choked-up throat. We mourn with our whole selves, so find ways to comfort yourself physically as well as emotionally. Seek out a warm hug or take a long walk. (Check out these quotes on pain and how to deal with it.)
Talk to them
“Sometimes I just look up, smile, and say ‘I know that was you!'” —Anonymous
Many people find comfort in speaking out loud or writing a letter to a loved one who has passed on. It helps you to articulate your feelings and work through them. (Check out these tips to improve communication in relationships.)
“Depression is a feeling without a cause. Mourning has a cause.” —Edward Hirsch, poet
Grief and mourning are so much more than feeling sad. In fact, you can feel grief and joy and humor and anger—and a myriad of other feelings all at the same time. Feeling bad about your negative feelings will only make you feel worse. Identifying your feelings and the cause can help you work through them.
Don’t put an end date on it
“You will not get over a loss; you will learn to live with it. You will be whole again, but you will never be the same. Nor should you. Nor would you want to.” —Elizabeth Kubler Ross, author of On Grief and Grieving
People who tell you to “get over it” or “move on” may think they’re helping, but that’s not how mourning works. Continuing to feel pain or sadness doesn’t mean you’re broken. (Learn about more ways to deal with disenfranchised grief.)
We all mourn
“Death is not the opposite of life but a part of it.” —Haruki Murakami, author
Every society has birth and death rituals, and that’s because everyone on Earth has to come in and go out at some point. Recognizing death as a fact of life can help it feel less frightening. (This is what “dying of old age” really means.)
Find your tribe
“We bereaved are not alone. We belong to the largest company in the world—those who have known suffering.” —Helen Keller, author and advocate
There are few things as healing as talking to someone else who has been through what you’re going through—and those people may not be your closest loved ones. Find a support group, in person or online, of people who understand your particular type of loss. (Here’s what one person learned from a support group for social anxiety.)
“Death gives us a challenge, to never waste our time. It reminds us to share our love with each other as much as possible.” —Leo Buscaglia, author
Suffering has a unique way of making us grateful for our blessings, big and small. (Here’s what to say—and what not to say—to someone who is suffering.)
What happens after death?
“Death is no more than passing from one room into another. But there’s a difference for me, you know. Because in that other room I shall be able to see.” —Helen Keller, author and advocate
You may find comfort in thinking about what your loved one may be doing or how they may be feeling now. Even if you don’t believe in an afterlife, it may be comforting to think they are no longer in pain. For some insider insight, read this person’s near-death experience.
Grieving can be a kind of honor
“It’s an honor to be in grief. It’s an honor to feel that much, to have loved that much.” —Elizabeth Gilbert, author
Mourning someone’s loss is a testament to how loved and treasured they were in your life. It’s an honor to have been a part of their life, however briefly.
Now that you’ve read these mourning quotes, here’s how happy memories of loved ones make you healthier.
- Abigail Nathanson, doctor of social work, licensed social worker, and professor of grief and trauma at New York University