Quotes for Healing Grief: Help from a Therapist

November 21, 2023

If you have been summoned to the journey and pain of grief, I'm sorry. Whether you are dealing with the loss of your beloved or the deep grief of no longer being able to operate in the world the way that you are used to, nobody ever expected the call into a grief journey. And it is a journey that we have no choice but to go on, yet at the same time taking our first step in the healing process is an act of bravery and vulnerability. One thing I have found to be true is that there is a silent language of grief. At times the words of comfort fall flat on one and really all that we can do is sit in the depths of the pain with them. We give up on finding the right words and make our bed next to our grieving friend, all with the declaration, "you've got all the space you need and I'm right here at the same time."

At the same time, my primary modality of therapy is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. It's filled with simple concepts that run deep and one of the foundational assertions is that humans are excessively dependent upon language. We need language to make sense of our world and our experiences. We experience the pain of this world and need words to be able to organize what happened. So much of what I end up doing in therapy is just putting words to the painful experience of this life so that people have a greater sense of their story. I often see a light bulb go click on when somebody is finally able to name their story and vocalize, "this is what happened to me and how it shaped me."

And if you are one who has ended up on this journey of needing to put language to the terrible pain of loss, you are in some of the largest company that any experience holds. With the time that we exist on this earth there are none who make it unscathed, and perhaps the only good news in that fact is that at least we are not alone. Sadness is an excellent way to feel loved by the people who mean most to you. And while opening that gift from one of the hardest emotions we can experience is something we rarely want to do, to ignore the contents of it would be a mistake.

Below, we've compiled some thought exercises for you to engage with all based around a selection of quotes pertaining to grief. My hope is that you can use these as a way to continue in the grief process, specifically around the use of language.


The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not 'get over' the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered.

  • Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

“Anyone who has lost something they thought was theirs forever finally comes to realize that nothing really belongs to them.”

  • Paulo Coelho

“Grief does not change you, (…) It reveals you.”

  • John Green, "The Fault in Our Stars"

“You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

  • A. A. Milne.

I wanted to begin with these quotes because this is one of the biggest pieces about grief I have learned in the past few years, mostly through my own bouts with grief. It does not go away but we learn to find a new center of balance. This can feel like bad news initially, but as we give up on the idea of trying to make the pain go away we see the strength inside of us revealed. Spend some time journaling on how you have grown and the parts of yourself you have seen emerge since your loss.


“Life is full of grief, to exactly the degree we allow ourselves to love other people.”

  • Orson Scott

“Grief can take care of itself, but to get the full value of joy you must have somebody to divide it with.”

  • Mark Twain

"Grief is the price we pay for love."

  • Queen Elizabeth ii

“Tears shed for another person are not a sign of weakness. They are a sign of a pure heart.”

  • Jose N Harris.

When we take the risk of love, we open ourselves up to the possibility of the pain that comes with loss. It is impossible to love somebody and not grieve them when they are gone. Spend some time writing a letter to the person that you are grieving, thanking them for what they meant to you.

What was it that they taught you?

What was it that you loved about them?


“To weep is to make less the depth of grief.”

  • William Shakespeare

There is a sacredness in tears. They are not a mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition and of unspeakable love.

  • Washington Irving

When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight. Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.” But I say unto you, they are inseparable.

  • Kahlil Gibran, "On Joy and Sorrow"

“The sad ones are those who waste their energy in trying to hold it back, for they can only feel bitterness in loss and no joy in gain.”

  • John Steinbeck

There can be so much pressure to be "doing well" when it comes to being in grief. We think this means that we have managed to "keep it all together" and aren't experiencing the pain. We're able to keep on with our days just fine and are done shedding our tears, but who said that this means we are doing well? Times of grief are the times to feel and release the emotions that are inside us. Allow yourself to move through the days and experience the emotions that are coming up for you. There will be days where you seem to feel "pretty normal" and "like nothing happened." That is okay to experience and does not mean that you did not love the person you lost. There will also be days that you cry and wonder how to move forward. We shan't measure the amount of tears that we shed, but rather should look to if we attended to the emotions present.


“The darker the night, the brighter the stars, The deeper the grief, the closer is God!”

  • Fyodor Dostoevsky

“Happiness is beneficial for the body, but it is grief that develops the powers of the mind. Love is a striking example of how little reality means to us.”

  • Marcel Proust

“His grief he will not forget; but it will not darken his heart, it will teach him wisdom.”

  • J. R. R Tolkien

“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.”

  • Leo Tolstoy

There is a certain duality that comes with grief. We see the darkness that it brings but can also be thankful for what it teaches us. It is difficult for human beings to understand how to hold two conflicting ideas at the same time, but when we learn to do this we increase our psychological flexibility. You can learn to be thankful for what you have learned from the grief in your life, while simultaneously wishing that it had never occurred in the first place.


“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment, until it becomes a memory.”

  • Dr. Seuss

“Grief has its own time frame. It has its own itinerary with you. It has its own power over you, and it will come when it comes.”

  • Elizabeth Gilbert

“Death was not the opposite of life. It was already here, within my being, it had always been here, and no struggle would permit me to forget that... I lived through the following spring...with that kind knot of air in my chest, but I struggled all the while against becoming serious.”

  • Haruki Murakami

Grief plays on the past, present, and future. We remember what we once had and reflect on no longer having it. We feel the pain in our body in the immediate moment, the knot of air in our chests. We let go of the imagined reality that we had of what life would be like with that person years down the road.

A Few Others

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing.

At other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in. It is so uninteresting. Yet I want the others to be about me. I dread the moments when the house is empty. If only they would talk to one another and not to me.”

  • C.S. Lewis, "A Grief Observed"

Grief is a curious thing, when it happens unexpectedly. It is a Band-Aid being ripped away, taking the top layer of a family. And the underbelly of a household is never pretty, ours no exception. There were times I stayed in my room for days on end with headphones on, if only so that I would not have to listen to my mother cry. There were the weeks that my father worked round-the-clock shifts, so that he wouldn't have to come home to a house that felt too big for us.

  • Jodi Picoult (2004). “My Sister's Keeper: A Novel”, p.591, Simon and Schuster

“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.”

  • Thomas Campbell

“There is no grief like the grief that does not speak.”

  • Henry Wadsworth

“You will survive, and you will find purpose in the chaos. Moving on doesn't mean letting go.”

  • Mary VanHaute


Grief can feel so lonely at times, but we want you to know that you don't have to be, when you are ready. At Thrive we have an 8 week Grief Group. The group is made for teaching the process of grief, show you a healthy support system for grief, and help you learn to share your grief story.

In 2024 we will also be releasing an online Grief Support course that is aimed to teach the grief process and also teach how to support someone else going through grief.

“Anyone who has lost something they thought was theirs forever finally comes to realize that nothing really belongs to them.”

  • Paulo Coelho

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