WORTH READING: Dealing With Grief: 17 Deep Thoughts for Dark Times

by Michael Josephson on March 9, 2012

in Odds & Ends, Quotes, Observations, Worth Reading, Worth Your Time

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There are no magic potions or secret strategies to deal with grief but here is a selection of special quotations and poems that might provide some perspective, if not comfort.

1. Sorrow makes us all children again — destroys all differences of intellect. The wisest know nothing.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

2. Time is a physician that heals every grief.   — Diphilus

3. Life becomes harder for us when we live for others, but it also becomes richer and happier.
– Albert Schweitzer

4. Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose.
– From The Wonder Years 
5. In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.  – Robert Frost

6. If you’re going through hell, keep going.  – Winston Churchill

7. Friendship improves happiness and abates misery, by the doubling of our joy and the dividing of our grief.
– Cicero

8. 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

9. Earth has no sorrow that Heaven cannot heal.  – Author Unknown

10. Grief can’t be shared. Everyone carries it alone. His own burden in his own way.  – Anne Morrow Lindbergh

11. Life is sad once in a while / Making it hard to laugh and smile
Everyday things suddenly remind you / Of memories of old, you thought you put behind you
A picture here a story there / A glimpse of eyes a flash of hair
Loved ones past take new form / Thinking you see them, false alarm
You know they’re gone but still can’t help / That memory lapse during which you yelp
But once again you realize the terrible truth /They’re gone, not here, not nail nor tooth
– Paisha Fellows

12. For everything there is a season,
And a time for every matter under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
A time to keep, and a time to throw away;
A time to tear, and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate,
A time for war, and a time for peace.
– Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

13. We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy.  – Joseph Campbell

14. Grief can awaken us to new values and new and deeper appreciations. Grief can cause us to reprioritize things in our lives, to recognize what’s really important and put it first. Grief can heighten our gratitude as we cease taking the gifts life bestows on us for granted. Grief can give us the wisdom of being with death. Grief can make death the companion on our left who guides us and gives us advice. None of this growth makes the loss good and worthwhile, but it is the good that comes out of the bad.  – Roger Bertschausen

15. Grief and sadness knits two hearts in closer bonds than happiness ever can; and common sufferings are far stronger than common joys.  – Alphonse de Lamartine

16. 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

17. Part of every misery is, so to speak, the misery’s shadow or reflection: the fact that you don’t merely suffer but have to keep on thinking about the fact that you suffer. I not only live each endless day in grief, but live each day thinking about living each day in grief.  – C.S. Lewis

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

PG March 9, 2012 at 8:16 am

There are some morinings I open up my e-mail and find your messages, open them up and find that the feature story you have posted is very significant to what is taking place in my life and the lives of those I care about. The most important thing…I learn, I grow, and I gain another tool to help others.
Thank you.

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Michael Josephson March 9, 2012 at 8:21 am

I am so glad to be of value to you.

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C. Haring March 16, 2012 at 6:47 am

In the children’s story “The Bluebird of Happiness”, a boy and girl make a journey to find the Bluebird of Happiness. Their first encounter is with the family members that had died, some they had never met. As they reluctantly continue the journey their Grandparents bestow a bit of wisdom about grief. I am unable to remember the exact verbiage but the idea is that whenever we think of those we lost, we bring them alive again.

This maybe a passage you could include with the above.

Thank you for what you do, Claudia Haring

Reply

Tracey Sittig March 20, 2012 at 5:04 pm

Once again I found you with words I needed. Lost my brother and father six weeks apart in 2008 and my mother just a month ago. Was wandering around my classroom this afternoon feeling bereft. Thought I’d be productive and wade through the emails. The e.e. cummings poem and your well-chosen quotes on grief are a help. I’ll be sharing them with my students, too. Thanks, Michael. I needed your clarity today!

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Michael Josephson March 20, 2012 at 5:15 pm

Tracey – it’s a pleasure and honor to know I’ve been of service.

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jerry March 21, 2012 at 8:29 am

I lost my beautiful one month old grandaughter a month ago to SIDs and I too am a teacher. I have no words of real comfort for my daughter and I sometimes too wander around my classroom, doing my job OK but feeling like Ill never be the same as I was ust a short time ago. I especially love the one from Emerson, because I am wise in many things but feel inept when trying to make sense of it all! Thanks Michael

Reply

Mike Corwin December 16, 2012 at 7:04 pm

In a letter of consolation to a friend in mourning, John Steinbeck wrote, “My hope is that you will find the thread that leads to the string that pulls in the rope that lifts you back to life again.”

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Michael Josephson December 16, 2012 at 8:05 pm

I love that. Thank you.

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