Grief Support – Finding Hope & Strength for the Journey
When we lose a loved one, we often feel lost.
It’s as if someone picked us up and plopped us down in a strange, foreign land, one we’d never choose to live in.
Sometimes it can help a lot to hear someone else express what it’s like to live in this new land, this new reality.
To that end I offer the quotes and insights that follow.
I hope they help you find the hope and strength you need to get you through the day or even the hour.
Pastor Rich Knight
Certified Life Coach for the Dying and Grieving
The Words of Others on this Journey
You give yourself permission to grieve by recognizing the need for grieving. Grieving is the natural way of working through the loss of a love. Grieving is not weakness nor absence of faith. Grieving is as natural as crying when you are hurt, sleeping when you are tired or sneezing when your nose itches. It is nature’s way of healing a broken heart.
– Doug Manning
Mourning is one of the most profound human experiences that it is possible to have. The deep capacity to weep for the loss of a loved one and to continue to treasure the memory of that loss is one of our noblest human traits. – Shneidman
“Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.”
– Helen Keller
What we have once enjoyed deeply we can never lose.
All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.
– Helen Keller
“Ah. I smiled. I’m not really here to keep you from freaking out. I’m here to be with you while you freak out, or grieve or laugh or suffer or sing. It is a ministry of presence. It is showing up with a loving heart.”
― Kate Braestrup, Here If You Need Me: A True Story
“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.”
– C.S. Lewis
And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in.
In the darkness there is always light, in the light there is always hope, in hope there is always love.
Even though you may feel it, you are not alone.
Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.”
― Fred Rogers
“In this sad world of ours sorrow comes to all and it often comes with bitter agony. Perfect relief is not possible except with time. You cannot now believe that you will ever feel better. But this is not true. You are sure to be happy again. Knowing this, truly believing it will make you less miserable now. I have had enough experience to make this statement.”
– Abraham Lincoln
“It is time to teach society on how to be empathetic with people grieving.”
Grief is not a disorder, a disease or a sign of weakness. It is an emotional, physical and spiritual necessity, the price you pay for love. The only cure for grief is to grieve.
– Earl Grollman
When a person is born we rejoice, and when they’re married we jubilate, but when they die we try to pretend nothing has happened.
– Margaret Mead
J. William Worden’s Four Tasks of Mourning
Task I: To Accept the Reality of the Loss
Task II: To work through to the Pain of the Grief
Task III: To Adjust to a World Without the Deceased
Task IV: To Find an Enduring Connection With the Deceased in the Midst of
Embarking on a New Life
“You have to wear out your grief like an old suit, until it is threadbare.”
You don’t get to choose how you’re going to die, or when.
You can only decide how you’re going to live. Now.
Grief is in two parts. The first is loss. The second is the remaking of life.
– Anne Roiphe
Each of us are angels, with only one wing.
And we can only fly by embracing one another.
Luciano De Crescenzo
“Grief shared is grief diminished.”
– Rabbi Grollman
People in grief need someone to walk with them without judging them.
– Gail Sheehy
Do not protect yourself from grief by a fence, but rather by your friends.
– Czech Proverb
You can’t stay in your corner of the forest, waiting for others to come to you: you have to go to them.
Winnie the Pooh
“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
– Winston Churchill
You never know how strong you are until
being strong is the only choice you have.
“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. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.”
– Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
“This hole in my heart is in the shape of you,
And no one else can fill it. Why would I want them to?”
“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving much advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.” ~ Henri Nouwen
At some of the darkest moments in my life, some people I thought of as friends deserted me-some because they cared about me and it hurt them to see me in pain; others because I reminded them of their own vulnerability, and that was more than they could handle. But real friends overcame their discomfort and came to sit with me. If they had not words to make me feel better, they sat in silence (much better than saying, “You’ll get over it,” or “It’s not so bad; others have it worse”) and I loved them for it.
– Harold Kushner, Living a Life that Matters
Pain is often beyond words, but never beyond love.
Sometimes you have to just stop talking & start hugging!
Spiritual progress is like detoxification.
Things have to come up in order to be released.
Once we have asked to be healed,
Then our unhealed places are forced to the surface.
If your spirit tells you it’s time to weep – listen.
“He wept, and it felt as if the tears were cleansing him, as if his body needed to empty itself.”
― Lois Lowry
“It’s so curious; one can resist tears and ‘behave’ very well in the hardest hours of grief. But then someone makes you a friendly sign behind a window, or one notices that a flower that was in bud only yesterday has suddenly blossomed, or a letter slips from a drawer . . . and everything collapses.” – Colette
Sometimes it is OK if the only thing you did today was breathe.
“When someone you love dies, and you’re not expecting it, you don’t lose her all at once; you lose her in pieces over a long time—the way the mail stops coming, and her scent fades from the pillows and even from the clothes in her closet and drawers. Gradually, you accumulate the parts of her that are gone. Just when the day comes—when there’s a particular missing part that overwhelms you with the feeling that she’s gone, forever—there comes another day, and another specifically missing part.”
– John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meany
There is no time limit on grief. So don’t rush yourself or let others rush you.
“Ain’t no shame in holding on to grief . . . .
As long as you make room for other things, too”
“Bubbles” The Wire
“All the art of living
lies in a fine mingling of
letting go and holding on.”
“It takes strength to make your way through grief,
to grab hold of life and let it pull your through.”
Enjoy life no matter how hard it may seem.
When life gives you a thousand reasons to cry, show the world that you have a million reasons to smile.
She was no longer wrestling with the grief, but could sit down with it as a lasting companion and make it a sharer in her thoughts.
~ George Eliot
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
– Elisabeeth Kubler-Ross
“It’s still ok to dream with a broken heart.”
– Nikki Rowe
“A feeling of pleasure or solace can be so hard to find when you are in the depths of your grief. Sometimes it’s the little things that help get you through the day. You may think your comforts sound ridiculous to others, but there is nothing ridiculous about finding one little thing to help you feel good in the midst of pain and sorrow!” – Elizabeth Berrien
How long will the pain last? All the rest of your life.
But the thing to remember is that not only the pain will last
but the blessed memories as well.
Tears are the proof of love. The more tears, the more love.
If this be true, then how could we ever ask that the pain cease forever;
For then the memory would go with it.
The pain of grief is the price we pay for love.
“If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. He didn’t
realize that love as powerful as your mother’s for you leaves its own
mark. Not a scar, no visible sign…to have been loved so deeply, even
though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection
forever. It is in your very skin.”
Professor Dumbledore in “The Sorcerer’s Stone,”
You will reach the point where you can finally go for an hour, or a day, or a week without painful reminders of absence and emptiness. Look for awakenings. Be open to rebirth.
“Faith is the bird that sings while it is still dark.”
“Finally, a remarkable thing begins to happen. You notice that for short
periods the hurt is not so great. This is the beginning of your healing.”
– Sharon Morris
“If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together… there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart…
I’ll always be with you.”
– A.A. Milne
All of us have a special place in our hearts for our loved ones who are no longer with us. Remember that and do as your heart tells you since it may be a loved one speaking to you.
Kathy, Harlan’s Mom
“Someday you will be faced with the reality of loss. And as life goes on, days rolling into nights, it will become clear that you never really stop missing someone special who’s gone, you just learn to live around the gaping hole of their absence. When you lose someone you can’t imagine living without, your heart breaks wide open, and the bad news is you never completely get over the loss. You will never forget them. However, in a backwards way, this is also the good news. They will live on in the warmth of your broken heart that doesn’t fully heal back up, and you will continue to grow and experience life, even with your wound. It’s like badly breaking an ankle that never heals perfectly, and that still hurts when you dance, but you dance anyway with a slight limp, and this limp just adds to the depth of your performance and the authenticity of your character. The people you lose remain a part of you.”
– Richard Gere
If you suppress grief too much, it can well redouble.
To spare oneself from grief at all cost can be achieved only at the price
of total detachment, which excludes the ability to experience happiness
Grief is itself a medicine.
Whenever you find yourself doubting how far you can go, just remember how far you have come. Remember everything you have faced, all the battles you have won, and all the fears you have over come. You Can Do It!!!
I share with you the agony of your grief.
The anguish of your heart finds echo in my own.
I know I cannot enter all you feel
Nor bear with you the burden of your pain;
I can but offer what my love does give;
The strength of caring,
The warmth of one who seeks to understand
The silent storm-swept barrenness of so great a loss.
This I do in quiet ways,
That on your lonely path
You may not walk alone.
We have learned so many lessons, since our heads were bowed in grief,
That have kept our boat from crashing on life’s ragged, rocky reef.
~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, “To One I Love”
“For in grief nothing “stays put.”
One keeps on emerging from a phase, but it always recurs. Round and round. Everything repeats.
Am I going in circles, or dare I hope I am on a spiral?
But if a spiral, am I going up or down it?
Grief is like a ball of string, you start at one end and wind.
Then the ball slips through your fingers and rolls across the floor. Some of your work is undone but not all. You pick it up and start over again, but you never have to begin again at the end of the string.
The ball never completely unwinds.
You’ve made some progress.
The Poets Speak
“There is no grief like the grief that does not speak”
— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)
“Every one can master a grief but he that has it”
— William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
“While grief is fresh, every attempt to divert only irritates. You must wait till it be digested, and then amusement will dissipate the remains of it.”
— Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)
“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 (1828-1910)
“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief… and unspeakable love.”
— Washington Irving
“The deeper that sorrow carves into your being the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?”
— Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931)
15 Things I Wish I’d Known About Grief
by Teryn O’Brien
1. You will feel like the world has ended. I promise, it hasn’t. Life will go on, slowly. A new normal will come, slowly. 2. No matter how bad a day feels, it is only a day. When you go to sleep crying, you will wake up to a new day. 3. Grief comes in waves. You might be okay one hour, not okay the next. Okay one day, not okay the next day. Okay one month, not okay the next. Learn to go with the flow of what your heart and mind are feeling. 4. It’s okay to cry. Do it often. But it’s okay to laugh, too. Don’t feel guilty for feeling positive emotions even when dealing with loss. 5. Take care of yourself, even if you don’t feel like it. Eat healthily. Work out. Do the things you love. Remember that you are still living. 6. Don’t shut people out. Don’t cut yourself off from relationships. You will hurt yourself and others. 7. No one will respond perfectly to your grief. People–even people you love–will let you down. Friends you thought would be there won’t be there, and people you hardly know will reach out. Be prepared to give others grace. Be prepared to work through hurt and forgiveness at others’ reactions. 8. God will be there for you perfectly. He will never, ever let you down. He will let you scream, cry, and question. Throw all your emotions at Him. He is near to the brokenhearted. 9. Take time to truly remember the person you lost. Write about him or her, go back to all your memories with them, truly soak in all the good times you had with that person. It will help. 10. Facing the grief is better than running. Don’t hide from the pain. If you do, it will fester and grow and consume you. 11. You will ask “Why?” more times than you thought possible, but you may never get an answer. What helps is asking, “How? How can I live life more fully to honor my loved one? How can I love better, how can I embrace others, how can I change and grow because of this?” 12. You will try to escape grief by getting busy, busy, busy. You will think that if you don’t think about it, it’ll just go away. This isn’t really true. Take time to process and heal. 13. Liquor, sex, drugs, hobbies, work, relationships, etc., will not take the pain away. If you are using anything to try and numb the pain, it will make things worse in the long run. Seek help if you’re dealing with the sorrow in unhealthy ways. 14. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to need people. It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay. 15. Grief can be beautiful and deep and profound. Don’t be afraid of it. Walk alongside it. You may be surprised at what grief can teach you.
“If you want to live well and love well . . .
You have to mourn well.”
“How you respond to your losses will affect you the rest of your life.”
“Everything I Needed to Know I learned
My Grief Support Group.”
by Rev. Dr. Rich Knight
- The power of shared experience means that the people who will be most helpful to you are those who’ve been through it.
- Good-hearted people will try to take your grief away. “At least you had your mother for all those years.”
- Good-hearted people will say the dumbest things. “I know just how you feel, I lost my pet hamster last week.”
- Life will not feel safe for a while, like living on an earthquake fault line, expecting something bad to happen at any time.
- People often hit emotional valleys in 3-month intervals.
- People can get stuck or mired down in one of the emotions of grief for a long time. Especially anger and depression. Often anger gets directed or channeled at someone – ex. doctor, nursing home, funeral director, pastor, etc.
- The week leading up to an anniversary/holiday/birthday is often more difficult than the day itself.
- In the early months, grief is like the stock market in decline, in a “bear” market. It usually gets worse before it gets better.
- Farther along, the journey of grief is like the stock market ascending in a “bull” market. There are still dips but they aren’t quite as deep or frequent.
- Grief ripples through life.
- A number of people speak of “signs” from their loved ones, even visitations.
- Faith and a faith community are invaluable resources.
Here are two books that I highly recommend:
Coach Yourself Through Grief by Dr. Don Eisenhauer
Healing After Loss: Daily Meditations for Working through Grief
by Martha Whitmore Hickman