While grief is a universal concept, it is also highly individualized in that everyone grieves differently. No two losses are equivalent and individual responses vary widely across person. Some individuals have an easier time verbalizing the wild storm of emotions that swirl within them, while others have more difficulty attributing words to intense feelings of sadness. For the latter, quotations can offer vocabulary when the most fitting words do not exist, or when they are nowhere to be found. Quotations can be a powerful mechanism to help the broken hearted cope with their sadness, while serving to reduce their isolation. For those currently suffering without the right words, we offer the following quotations as a temporary respite of healing.
“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear”…C.S. Lewis
C.S. Lewis, a British novelist and poet, likened the sensation of grief to fear, in his novel that depicted experiences after his wife’s passing. C.S. Lewis highlighted that grief and fear become interchangeable when a loved one is lost, as one must learn how to move on into the unknown.
“Well, everyone can master a grief but he that has it”…William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare, an English poet and playwright, penned this quote in “Much Ado About Nothing.” Shakespeare pointed out that those not grieving erroneously think grief and loss are easy to surmount. However, those grieving know grief is not easy to master and instead, a long process to work through and overcome.
“There is no pain so great as the memory of joy in present grief”…Aeschylus
Aeschylus was an ancient Greek playwright who wrote tragedies. This tragedian illuminated how joyous memories of deceased loved ones are representative of paramount pain in that individuals realize that they these types of moments will never be experienced with them again.
“Tears are the silent language of grief”…Voltaire
Voltaire was a French writer and philosopher who depicted that a word cannot aptly give justice to an individual’s grief and sadness. Instead, Voltaire portrayed that silence is inherent in sorrow and can only be portrayed nonverbally through tears.
“There is no grief like the grief that does not speak.”…Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, an American poet, captured the loneliness and isolation that grief precipitates, especially when one cannot process or speak about it. Longfellow portrayed that grief of this magnitude is amongst the most difficult to endure.
“The healing power of even the most microscopic exchange with someone who knows in a flash precisely what you’re talking about because she experienced that thing too cannot be overestimated” …Cheryl Strayed
Cheryl Strayed, an American novelist and memoirist, depicted the comfort and connection that arises when one encounters another individual who has experienced grief and loss of a similar magnitude. Strayed portrays that grief becomes less isolating when one encounters another who has experienced it first-hand themselves.
“As difficult as it is to endure, depression has elements that can be helpful in grief. It slows us down and allows us to take real stock of the loss”…Elizabeth Kubler Ross & David Kessler
Elisabeth Kubler Ross, Swiss-American psychiatrist, and David Kessler, an American author, co-authored two books on grief and loss. This quotation portrays that depression and sadness represent a stage in the grief process, forcing one to slow down long enough to truly understand the magnitude of loss endured.
“Grief is the price we pay for love”…Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom, adeptly and succinctly points out that grief can only exist from love. No individual can grieve one that they did not love or deeply care about. It also implies that we must risk grief if we want to experience love.
Tracy Smith is a Licensed Professional Counselor and employed as a clinical supervisor for the Community YMCA, Counseling & Social Services branch. Tracy has over 12 years of experience working in the mental health field and has worked in a wide array of settings including partial care hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs, community agencies, group practice, and school-based programs. Tracy has worked with clients of all ages, but especially enjoys working with the resistant adolescent population. Tracy enjoys facilitating groups, coming up with creative interventions, and is interested in creative art therapies, such as sand tray, play therapy, and psychodrama.