Years ago, you’d have to go to the library and check out thick, heavy books like Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations. Thankfully, today, finding insightful and inspirational quotes is much easier. All you have to do is to search online using either “grief quotes” or “grief affirmations” and you’ll be rewarded with dozens of websites and pages to sort through. It’s like panning for gold; you end up sifting through thousands of words just to find the ones which work for you in the moment.
Human beings are social creatures; when major events happen in our lives we naturally turn to others for support. Sometimes the people around you aren't the best ones to deal with your grief; it's easy for them to grow weary and impatient with your on-going bereavement. Even when those closest to you are willing to sit with you in your sorrow; when they are away from your side, who can you turn to? That's when quotations and affirmations can make a real difference. A quotation can validate what we already know or believe about who we are; or give us a new way of looking at the world and our experience in it.
What's the Difference Between a Quote and an Affirmation?
A quotation is merely something someone once said; it’s an opinion or an observation. Consider this grief quote from Leo Tolstoy, the famous author: “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.” (Source: Goodreads.com)
An affirmation is different. It’s a sentence written with the express purpose of affecting your subconscious mind, inspiring and motivating you to make changes in your perspective or behavior. People just like you write positive affirmations all the time! Take this one as an example: “I release all these unrelenting, painful thoughts and emotions!” (Source: healing-affirmations.com)
It’s easy to see how grief quotes and grief affirmations can help you during your bereavement. Many grief counselors advise clients to actively collect them, either in a journal or on index cards. In doing so, these insights, observations and directives can help to reshape your response to the loss of your loved one.
Sources for Grief Quotes
Why do people like quotes so much? It’s usually because the writer captured the idea so well; he or she found the essence and articulated it in a memorable way. Here are some good online sources for grief quotations.
The blog-based website What’s Your Grief? is not only a great resource for grief quotes; it’s got a wealth of useful information for anyone dealing with loss. Why not begin your search with the WYG post 64 Quotes About Grief, Coping and Life After Loss, where you’ll find nuggets of wisdom like this, from Havelock Ellis: "All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on."
Goodreads where you’ll find the Tolstoy grief quote mentioned earlier is an excellent source for thousands of literature-based quotations, like this one from contemporary author Jandy Nelson:
“My sister will die over and over again for the rest of my life. Grief is forever. It doesn't go away; it becomes a part of you, step for step, breath for breath. I will never stop grieving Bailey because I will never stop loving her. That's just how it is. Grief and love are conjoined, you don't get one without the other. All I can do is love her, and love the world, emulate her by living with daring and spirit and joy.”
Then there’s BrainyQuote which features a comprehensive internal search engine. Just enter the search term “grief”, and you’ll be rewarded with over ten pages of grief quotes, like this one from Henri Nouwen: “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 healing, not curing... that is a friend who cares.”
The Best in Grief Affirmations
While it’s easy to find really good grief affirmations online, it’s most useful to write custom affirmations which speak directly to you and your grief. Start by choosing one negative thought, as in “I’ll be grieving forever.” Then contradict it with a positive, as in: “I am working my way through grief.”
Just remember three things: you want to keep your grief affirmation short. Always start it with “I” or “My”, and write it in the present tense.
Instead of copying the affirmations you find online, use them as models for your own. Barbara Clark, the publisher behind the website mentioned earlier, Healing Affirmations, gives you many examples of grief affirmations to model upon, such as "I release the belief that I have lost everything." Louise Hay, of Heal Your Life is another source of inspiration. Consider this simply worded positive affirmation (one of many you’ll find there: "I can find happiness in any situation."
Don't Go It Alone
The experience of grief doesn’t have to be a study in loneliness and isolation. By collecting meaningful grief quotes and/or grief affirmations you connect with others who have endured what you’re going through right now. If you’re especially inspired by a quote, or you’ve created an affirmation that really works well for you, why not send us an email? We’d delight in sharing what you’ve discovered.