Grief is a multi-faceted response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone or something to which a bond was formed. Although conventionally focused on the emotional response to loss, it also has physical, cognitive, behavioral, social, and philosophical dimensions. While the terms are often used interchangeably, bereavement often refers to the state of loss, and grief to the emotional reaction to loss.
- But what is grief, if not love persevering?
- Why wilt thou add to all the griefs I suffer
Imaginary ills, and fancy'd tortures?
- Joseph Addison, Cato, A Tragedy (1713), Act IV, scene 1.
- But nothing that can be said can begin to take away the anguish and the pain of these moments. Grief is the price we pay for love.
- Elizabeth II , Message from the Queen, read by the British ambassador to Washington, Sir Christopher Meyer, St Thomas's Episcopal Church on Fifth Avenue in New York City. 22 September 2001.  Source 1: The Telegraph (September 21, 2001): Grief is price of love, says the Queen. By David Sapsted, Peter Foster and George Jones in New York. Archived from the original on July 7, 2013 and January 25, 2023. and Source 2: The Guardian (September 21, 2021): Text of the Queen's message to New York. Archived from the original on February 2, 2023 and May 17, 2023.
- O, brothers! let us leave the shame and sin
Of taking vainly in a plaintive mood,
The holy name of Grief—holy herein,
That, by the grief of One, came all our good.
- Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Sonnets, Exaggeration.
- Thank God, bless God, all ye who suffer not
More grief than ye can weep for. That is well—
That is light grieving!
- Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Tears.
- The heart which grief hath cankered
Hath one unfailing remedy - the Tankard.
- Charles Stuart Calverley, Beer, from Verses and Translations (1862).
- Nullus dolor est quem non longinquitas temporis minuat ac molliat.
- There is no grief which time does not lessen and soften.
- Cicero, Epistles, IV. 5. Said by Servius Sulplicius to Cicero.
- Grief is the price we pay for love.
- In all the silent manliness of grief.
- Oliver Goldsmith, The Deserted Village (1770), line 384.
- Grief tears his heart, and drives him to and fro,
In all the raging impotence of woe.
- Homer, The Iliad, Book XXII, line 526. Pope's translation.
- Quis desiderio sit pudor aut modus
Tam cari capitis?
- On me, on me
Time and change can heap no more!
The painful past with blighting grief
Hath left my heart a withered leaf.
Time and change can do no more.
- Richard Henry Horne, Dirge.
- Grief and disappointment give rise to anger, anger to envy, envy to malice, and malice to grief again, till the whole circle be completed.
- Those redeemed by Jehovah will return and come to Zion with a joyful cry. Unending joy will crown their heads. Exultation and rejoicing will be theirs, And grief and sighing will flee away.
- Ponamus nimios gemitus: flagrantior æquo
Non debet dolor esse viri, nec vulnere major.
- Let us moderate our sorrows. The grief of a man should not exceed proper bounds, but be in proportion to the blow he has received.
- Juvenal, Satires (early 2nd century), XIII. 11.
- Grieving is a sign of spiritual health.
- If grief can be a doorway to love, then let us all weep for the world we are breaking apart so we can love it back to wholeness again.
- There is an indolence in grief
Which will not even seek relief.
What is the toil, or care, or pain,
The human heart cannot sustain?
Enough if struggling can create
A change or colour in our fate;
But where's the spirit that can cope
With listless suffering, when hope,
The last of misery's allies,
Sickens of its sweet self, and dies.
- Letitia Elizabeth Landon, The Troubadour - Canto III.
- The only cure for grief is action.
- G. H. Lewes, The Spanish Drama, Life of Lope De Vega, Chapter II.
- Oh, well has it been said, that there is no grief like the grief which does not speak!
- Believe me, it is no time for words when the wounds are fresh and bleeding; no time for homilies when the lightning's shaft has smitten and the man lies stunned and stricken. Then let the comforter be silent; let him sustain by his presence, not by his preaching; by his sympathetic silence, not by his speech. "Afterward," when the storm is spent, he may venture to open his mouth; "afterward," when the morn has dawned, he may seek "to justify the ways of God to man;" for " afterward" the sufferer will be prepared to hear, and "afterward" the sufferer himself may be able to extract sweetness from bitterness, music from mourning, songs from sorrow, and "the peaceable fruit of righteousness" from the root of wretchedness and woe.
- George C. Lorimer, Isms Old and New: Winter Sunday Evening Sermon-series for 1880-81 (1881), Chapter 6: Pessimism, or The Mystery of Human Suffering, "Unwise Comforters", p. 147.
- Ille dolet vere qui sine teste dolet.
- He grieves sincerely who grieves unseen.
- Martial, Epigrams (c. 80-104 AD), I. 34. 4.
- There is a solemn luxury in grief.
- William Mason, The English Garden, line 596.
- Se a ciascun l'interno affanno
Si leggesse in fronte scritto,
Quanti mai, che invidia fanno,
Ci farebbero pietà!
- If our inward griefs were seen written on our brow, how many would be pitied who are now envied!
- Metastasio, Giuseppe Riconosciuto, I.
- What need a man forestall his date of grief,
And run to meet what he would most avoid?
- Great, good, and just, could I but rate
My grief with thy too rigid fate,
I'd weep the world in such a strain
As it should deluge once again;
But since thy loud-tongued blood demands supplies
More from Briareus' hands than Argus' eyes,
I'll sing thy obsequies with trumpet sounds
And write thy epitaph in blood and wounds.
- Montrose, on Charles I.
- Strangulat inclusus dolor, atque exæstuat intus,
Cogitur et vires multiplicare suas.
- Suppressed grief suffocates, it rages within the breast, and is forced to multiply its strength.
- Ovid, Tristium, V, 1, 63.
- Grief must be a reflection of love. It is perhaps the ultimate proof of love. Grief is an uncontrollable manifestation of your belief that the lost person’s existence, limited and flawed as it might have been, was worthwhile, despite the limitations and flaws even of life itself.
- Grief—unlike sex, music, and cheating at cards—was not a skill that could be honed by practice.
- Le bonheur est salutaire pour le corps, mais c'est le chagrin qui développe les forces de l'esprit.
- Curæ leves loquuntur, ingentes stupent.
- Light griefs are communicative, great ones stupefy.
- Seneca the Younger, Hippolytus, 607.
- Levis est dolor qui capere consilium potest.
- That grief is light which can take counsel.
- Seneca the Younger, Medea, I, 55.
- Magnus sibi ipse non facit finem dolor.
- Great grief does not of itself put an end to itself.
- Seneca the Younger, Troades, 786.
- If thou engrossest all the griefs are thine,
Thou robb'st me of a moiety.
- For grief is crowned with consolation.
- O, grief hath chang'd me since you saw me last,
And careful hours with time's deform'd hand
Have written strange defeatures in my face.
- William Shakespeare, The Comedy of Errors, Act V, scene 1, line 297.
- That we two are asunder; let that grieve him;
Some griefs are medicinable.
- Great griefs, I see, medicine the less.
- Oft have I heard that grief softens the mind
And makes it fearful and degenerate.
- What private griefs they have, alas, I know not,
That made them do it.
- For grief is proud and makes his owner stoop.
- I am not mad; I would to heaven I were!
For then, 'tis like I should forget myself:
O, if I could, what grief should I forget!
- Grief fills the room up of my absent child,
Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me,
Puts on his pretty looks, repeats his words,
Remembers me of all his gracious parts,
Stuffs out his vacant garments with his form;
Then, have I reason to be fond of grief?
- But then the mind much sufferance doth o'erskip,
When grief hath mates.
- Every one can master a grief but he that has it.
Can counsel and speak comfort to that grief
Which they themselves not feel; but, tasting it,
Their counsel turns to passion, which before
Would give preceptial medicine to rage,
Fetter strong madness in a silken thread,
Charm ache, with air and agony with words.
- Nor doth the general care
Take hold on me, for my particular grief
Is of so flood-gate and o'erbearing nature
That it engluts and swallows other sorrows
And it is still itself.
- When remedies are past, the griefs are ended
By seeing the worst, which late on hopes depended.
- Each substance of a grief hath twenty shadows,
Which shows like grief itself, but is not so;
For sorrow's eye, glazed with blinding tears,
Divides one thing entire to many objects.
- You may my glories and my state depose,
But not my griefs; still am I king of those.
- My grief lies all within;
And these external manners of laments
Are merely shadows to the unseen grief
That swells with silence in the tortur'd soul.
- Griefs of mine own lie heavy in my breast,
Which thou wilt propagate, to have it prest
With more of thine.
- Some griefs show much of love;
But much of grief shows still some want of wit.
- My grief lies onward and my joy behind.
- William Shakespeare, Sonnet L.
- Alas, poor man! grief has so wrought on him,
He takes false shadows for true substances.
- But I have
That honourable grief lodg'd here which burns
Worse than tears drown.
- What's gone and what's past help
Should be past grief.
- Winter is come and gone,
But grief returns with the revolving year.
- Percy Bysshe Shelley, Adonais, Stanza 18.
- Dark is the realm of grief: but human things
Those may not know of who cannot weep for them.
- Percy Bysshe Shelley, Otho. (A projected poem).
- In much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.
- Solomon, Eccesiastes, 1:18, King James Version.
- "Oh, but," quoth she, "great griefe will not be tould,
And can more easily be thought than said."
- Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene (1589-96), Book I, Canto VII, Stanza 41.
- He gave a deep sigh; I saw the iron enter into his soul.
- Laurence Sterne, Sentimental Journey, The Captive.
- Nulli jactantius mœrent quam qui maxime lætantur.
- None grieve so ostentatiously as those who rejoice most in heart.
- Tacitus, Annales (AD 117), II. 77.
- We tend to shy away from that grief. But I think that that’s the role of art: to help us into grief, and through grief, for each other, for our values, for the living world. You know, I think about grief as a measure of our love, that grief compels us to do something, to love more.
- But, Madam, let your grief be laid aside,
And let the fountain of your tears be dry'd,
In vain they flow to wet the dusty plain,
Your sighs are wafted to the skies in vain,
Your pains they witness, but they can no more,
While Death reigns tyrant o'er this mortal shore.
- Phillis Wheatley, "To a Gentleman and Lady on the Death of the Lady's Brother and Sister, and a Child of the Name of Avis, aged one Year." st. 2, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (1773).
- Men are we, and must grieve when even the Shade
Of that which once was great is passed away.
- William Wordsworth, On the Extinction of the Venetian Republic.
Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations edit
- Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 342-44.
- Were floods of tears to be unloosed
In tribute to my grief,
The doves of Noah ne'er had roost
Nor found an olive-leaf.
Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895) edit
- Quotes reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).
- A genuine faith lifts us above the bitterness of grief; a sense of Christ's living presence takes away all unbearable loneliness even when we are most alone. In our darkest hours, to know that our lost friend is still living, still loving us, still ours, in the highest and best sense, must be unspeakably consoling.
- Arthur Henry Kenney, p. 27.
- The mossy marbles rest
On the lips that he has pressed
In their bloom;
And the names he loved to hear
Have been carved for many a year
On the tomb.
- Oliver Wendell Holmes, p. 27.
- Over the river they beckon to me,
Loved ones who've crossed to the farther side,
The gleam of their snowy robes I see,
But their voices are lost in the dashing tide.
- N. A. W. Priest, p. 28.
- Yes, we all live to God!
Father, Thy chastening rod,
So help us, Thine afflicted ones, to bear,
That in the spirit land,
Meeting at Thy right hand,
'Twill be our heaven to find that He is there!
- John Pierpont, p. 28.