Quotes for times of sadness & loss

Over the years I’ve collected many beautiful poems, lyrics and quotes that offer comfort and insight. From great philosophers and age-old spiritual teachings I found deep compassion and loving support. From songwriters – our modern poets, I found strength in the raw honesty of their words, and I found courage in their vulnerability and their willingness to share those feelings. May you find the perfect quote for your occasion.




This collection is from my book, Goodbye — for Times of Sadness & Loss. A mixture of angry, sad, philosophical, hopeful and hopeless; not to change the way you feel but rather to meet you wherever you are.


Everything hurts



I hurt myself today to see if I still feel
I focus on the pain the only thing that's real

—written by 9" Nails, sung by Johnny Cash


Is there no pity sitting in the clouds that sees into the bottom of my grief?

—William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet


We cannot learn without pain



Sometimes when one person is absent, the whole world seems depopulated

—Allphonse de Lamartine


The angels are always near to those who are grieving to whisper to them that their loved ones are safe in the hand of God.

—quoted in The Angels' Little Instruction Book, by Eileen Elias Freeman


Life it seems will fade away
Drifting further every day
Getting lost within myself
Nothing matters no one else
I have lost the will to live
Simply nothing more to give
There is nothing more for me
Need the end to set me free.

—Metallica, 'Fade To Black'


Oh heart, if one should say to you that the soul perishes like the body,
Answer that the flower withers but the seed remains

—Kahlil Gibran


I stir wild honey into my carefully prepared cedar tea and wait for meaning to arise, to greet and comfort me.

—Paula Gunn Allen



Time does not bring relief; you all have lied
Who told me time would ease me of my pain!
I miss him in the weeping of the rain;
I want him at the shrinking of the tide;
The old snows melt from every mountain-side,
And last year's leaves are smoke in every lane;
But last year's bitter loving must remain
Heaped on my heart, and my old thoughts abide.
There are a hundred places where I fear
To go, so with his memory they brim.
And entering with relief some quiet place
Where never fell his boot or shone his face
I say, "There is no memory of him here!"
And so stand stricken, so remembering him.

—Edna St. Vincent Millay ‘Time Does Not Bring Relief’ 1917


Give sorrow words. The grief that does not speak
Whispers the o'er-fraught heart, and bids it break.

—Macbeth, William Shakespeare


You don’t have to hold on to the pain, to hold on to the memory

—Janet Jackson


Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

—Edna St. Vincent Millay


We weep over the graves of infants and the little ones taken from us by death;
but an early grave may be the shortest way to heaven.

—Tryon Edwards


When I die
when my coffinis being taken out
you must never think
i am missing this world

when you see
my corpse is being carried
don't cry for my leaving
i'm not leaving
i'm arriving at eternal love

when you leave me
in the grave
don't say goodbye
remember a grave is
only a curtain
for the paradise behind

it looks like the end
it seems like a sunset
but in reality it is a dawn
when the grave locks you up
that is when your soul is freed

when for the last time
you close your mouth
your words and soul
will belong to the world of
no place no time.

—Rumi, ghazal number 911, translated May 18, 1992, by Nader Khalili.


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.   

—Kahlil Gibran



Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal. 

—From a headstone in Ireland


Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.

—The Bible, Matthew 5:4


Oh, where oh where can my baby be? The Lord took her away from me.
She's gone to heaven, so I got to be good, So I can see my baby when I leave this world.

—from Last Kiss by Pearl Jam


I visited the place where we last met.
Nothing was changed,
The gardens were well-tended.
The fountains sprayed their usual steady jet;
There was no sign that anything had ended
And nothing to instruct me to forget –
The thoughtless birds that shook out of the trees,
Singing an ecstasy I could not share,
Played cunning in my thoughts.
Surely in these pleasures there could not be pain
To bear or any discord shake the level breeze.
It was because the place was just the same
that made your absence seem a savage force,
for under all that gentleness there came
an earthquake tremor:
Fountain, birds and grass were shaken
by my thinking of your name.

—Absence, by Elizabeth Jennings


Can I see another’s woe, And not be in sorrow too?
Can I see another’s grief, And not seek for kind relief?

—William Blake, Songs of Innocence, ‘On Another’s Sorrow’


For what is it to die but to stand naked in the
wind and melt into the sun?
And what is it to cease breathing but to free
The breath from its restless tides, that it may rise
And expand and seek God unemcumbered?

Only when you drink from the river of silence
Shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top,
then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then
shall you truly dance.

—from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran


Listen to the silence as it echoes around you, ancient spirits dance in it

—Amber Coverdale Sumrall


Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glint on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you wake in the morning hush,
I am the swift, uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft starlight at night.

Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.
Do not stand at my grave and cry.
I am not there, I did not die!

—Mary Frye (1932)



When things look bleak and gloomy, you have at least two things to look forward to. First, morning always follows night. Second, the longer you have to wait in darkness, the more you appreciate the sheer wonder of the sunrise.

—Paul Wilson ‘The Little Book of Hope’


There is a land of the living and a land of the dead, and the bridge is love.

—Thornton Wilder


The pain passes, but the beauty remains.

—Pierre Auguste Renoir


Death is nothing at all; it does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room.

—Canon Henry Scott-Holland


Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, I will try again tomorrow.

—Mary Anne Radmacher


I’ll tell you how to get up in the morning……watch for the dawn.

—Deena Metzger


If I had a single flower for every time I think about you, I could walk forever in my garden.

— Claudia Ghandi


It’s what we do for each other that heals.

—Deena Metzger


Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity.

—Henry Van Dyke


I wanted a perfect ending.  Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end.  Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. 

—Gilda Radner


Death is but changing of our robes to wait in wedding garments at the Eternal's gate.

—Sri Aurobindo


They will come back, come back again,
As long as the red Earth rolls.
He never wasted a leaf or a tree.
Do you think He would squander souls?

— Rudyard Kipling



The day which we fear as our last is but the birthday of eternity. 



Death is not the end
Death can never be the end.
Death is the road.
Life is the traveller.
The Soul is the Guide
Our mind thinks of death.
Our heart thinks of life
Our soul thinks of Immortality. 

—Sri Chinmoy


Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
and never stops at all.

—Emily Dickinson


The pieces can’t be glued; they’re always rearranging. As soon as things get clear, that’s when everything starts changing.

—Susan Graetz


I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other. Then someone at my side says, "There, she is gone."

‘Gone where?’

Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side, and she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port. Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at the moment when someone at my side says, "There, she is gone!" there are other eyes watching her coming, and there are other voices ready to take up the glad shout, "Here she comes!" And that is dying.

— Henry van Dyke


Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting.
Not in entire forgetfulness,
and not in utter nakedness,
but trailing clouds of glory do we come.

—William Wordsworth


We are such stuff
As dreams are made on,
And our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

—William Shakespeare


Hope is a waking dream






These are some of my new favourite quotes about loss, change and coming to terms with it.

When there are no words…know that the silences are carrying the thoughts and prayers of all who love you

—Dawn Dais


All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves

—Anatole France


If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man's life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.

—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


My soul is a broken field, plowed by pain.

—Sara Teasdale


It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.

—Joseph Campbell


Sunday is gloomy,
My hours are slumberless
Dearest the shadows
I live with are numberless
Little white flowers
Will never awaken you
Not where the black coaches
Sorrow has taken you
Angels have no thoughts
Of ever returning you
Wouldnt they be angry
If I thought of joining you?

—Gloomy Sunday sung by Billie Holiday, written by Carter / s. lewis / r. seress


Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come. 

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves. 

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

—W. H. Auden