Losing a loved one is an experience all of us have in common, a painful reality we must all work through at one point or another in our lives. No matter whether our loved one died suddenly, or they were sick for a while and it was expected, that doesn’t numb us from the pain of dealing with loss. Death is an intruder in human life, and the loss of any human being is tragic.
In the wake of loss, we grieve and try to pick up the pieces of our lives. Some days are good, some days are hard. Some days we may even get the reprieve of not thinking about our loss, but there will always be a gap in our lives that our loved one occupied that cannot be overlooked, a quiet ache that at times flares up, but is ever-present.
How are quotes helpful when dealing with loss?The season of loss is a painful and often confusing one. It can also be lonely. In the face of loss, what use are quotes? In our loss, having the wisdom of others to lean on can help us maintain perspective, allow us to know that we’re not alone, and encourage us along the way.
C.S. Lewis, who was an avid walker, once wrote about walking and talking, saying, “Walking and talking are two very great pleasures, but it is a mistake to combine them. Our own noise blots out the sounds and silences of the outdoor world; and talking leads almost inevitably to smoking, and then farewell to nature as far as one of our senses is concerned.
The only friend to walk with is one who so exactly shares your taste for each mood of the countryside that a glance, a halt, or at most a nudge, is enough to assure us that the pleasure is shared.”
When it comes to grief and loss, journeying with others that have grieved and are grieving can be the simplest and most profound comfort. Though each person’s grief and journey through loss is unique, those who have also lost loved ones can, in a few words, capture or evoke precisely what you’re feeling and thinking when you don’t have the words.
Give yourself room to grieve
Not that you need permission to grieve, but for some people, the reminder to create space for themselves to grieve is an important one. Below are a few quotes that encourage us to deal with our loss by confronting it head-on and grieving. Grieving loss is one of the things we do that makes us human, and it is not a sign of weakness.
Jesus wept. – John 11:35
“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
“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, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.” – Washington Irving
Grief comes to us all
Grief is something that will come to all of us because death is a reality none of us escapes. One of the books of wisdom in the Bible reminds us that:
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance…” – Ecclesiastes 3:1-4
We also can’t run away from another part of us that makes us what we are. We are relational beings, and our lives are enriched beyond words through our relationships. There is no substitute for meaningful connection with others, even though that comes with the risk of losing that connection. There’s no way around this conundrum.
For the person who thinks that walling themselves off from others is the way to avoid grief, C.S. Lewis reflected on the notion of locking your heart away from a connection to others. Loving others requires our vulnerability, and it may seem safer to avoid vulnerability, but it’s no way to live. Loss is a reality for us all because what makes us most human – loving others – makes us vulnerable.
Lewis writes, “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements.
Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
Grief won’t just disappear
As much as the experience of loss is painful and at times we’d rather just forget, it is something that we live with for the rest of our lives. We learn to cope and live life without our loved one, but the impact they made on us, and the feelings we feel for them don’t evaporate into nothingness. This doesn’t mean that grief necessarily incapacitates us, but it does mean it’s our companion for the long haul. And that’s not a bad thing, as some of the following quotes point out:
“You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly – that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.” – Anne Lamott
“Grief changes shape, but it never ends.” – Keanu Reeves
“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
“You don’t go around grieving all the time, but the grief is still there and always will be.” – Nigella Lawson
Walking with hope while dealing with loss
Losing a loved one and dealing with loss can leave us feeling as though the color and life have been drained out of our lives. Christians believe and hold onto the hope that death doesn’t have the final word over any of us. Jesus Christ rose from the dead, he triumphed over death and that new life is something that he offers to us all.
Throughout the Bible, we are pointed to this hope of eternal life where the scars and ravages of death are wiped away, and joy abounds. We can grieve while walking with hope in this future; it can sustain us in our times of hardship. The quotes below remind us to walk with hope:
On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare
a feast of rich food for all peoples,
a banquet of aged wine—
the best of meats and the finest of wines.
On this mountain he will destroy
the shroud that enfolds all peoples,
the sheet that covers all nations;
he will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears
from all faces;
he will remove his people’s disgrace
from all the earth.
The Lord has spoken.
In that day they will say,
“Surely this is our God;
we trusted in him, and he saved us.
This is the Lord, we trusted in him;
let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.” – Isaiah 25:6-9
Other passages like the ones below remind us to look to God in our times of distress and to keep our future in view. Mourning may be our present reality, but the joy of what is to come can sustain us during this time.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. – Psalms 46:1
Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. You will increase my honor and comfort me once again. – Psalm 71:20
The young women will dance for joy, and the men—old and young—will join in the celebration. I will turn their mourning into joy. I will comfort them and exchange their sorrow for rejoicing. – Jeremiah 31:13
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. – Romans 8:18
When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. – 1 Corinthians 15:54-58
“Depressed,” Courtesy of K. Mitch Hodge, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Rice Paddy,” Courtesy of Jesman Fabio, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Tough Times,” Courtesy of Ben White, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Hope,” Courtesy of Ronak Valobobhai, Unsplash.com, CC0 License