Sermon quotes on loss

Winston Churchill

Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.


Ronald A. Heifetz

What people resist is not change per se, but loss.


Ronald A. Heifetz

When you lead people through difficult change, you take them on an emotional roller coaster because you are asking them to relinquish something—a belief, a value, a behavior—that they hold dear. People can stand only so much change at any one time.


John Irving

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.

Timothy Keller

God’s grace and forgiveness, while free to the recipient, are always costly for the giver. From the earliest parts of the Bible, it was understood that God could not forgive without sacrifice. No one who is seriously wronged can ‘just forgive’ the perpetrator. But when you forgive, that means you absorb the loss and the debt. You bear it yourself. All forgiveness, then, is costly.


Anne Lamott

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.

Watchman Nee

Gaining spiritual life is conditional on suffering loss. We cannot measure our lives in terms of “gain”; they must be measured in terms of “loss.” Our real capacity lies not in how much we retain but in how much has been poured out. The power of love is attested by love’s sacrifice. If our hearts are not separated from the love of the world, our soul life has yet to go through the cross.

Jodi Picoult

If you have a sister and she dies, do you stop saying you have one? Or are you always a sister, even when the other half of the equation is gone?

My Sister’s Keeper

William Shakespeare

Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break. 

Chuck Swindoll

When you suffer and lose, that does not mean you are being disobedient to God. In fact, it might mean you’re right in the centre of His will. The path of obedience is often marked by times of suffering and loss.

Mark Twain

Nothing that grieves us can be called little: by the eternal laws of proportion a child’s loss of a doll and a king’s loss of a crown are events of the same size.

John Wesley

The best helps to growth in grace are the ill usage, the affronts, and the losses which befall us. We should receive them with all thankfulness, as preferable to all others, were it only on this account, — that our will has no part therein.

Charles Dickens

And can it be that in a world so full and busy, the loss of one weak creature makes a void in any heart, so wide and deep that nothing but the width and depth of eternity can fill it up!

William James

Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact.

Nicholas Wolterstorff

I shall look at the world through tears. Perhaps I shall see things that dry-eyed I could not see.

Lament for a Son

Archibald McLeish

You know as well as I there’s more…There’s always one more scene no matter.

Mal McKissock and Dianne McKissock

One of the greatest needs of all bereaved people is to have access to someone who will take a risk and be involved—someone who is not afraid of intense feelings, but who will encourage their expression, confident that this is part of the ‘healing’ process. We use the word ‘healing’ not to imply that grief is an illness that can be cured, but in acknowledgement that in the early days, weeks, months, years, every part of one’s being can feel raw, inflamed and vulnerable.

Coping With Grief 4th Edition, ABC Books, 2012, p. 28.

Edward Hirsch

…I put down these memorandums of my affections In honor of tenderness, In honor of all of those who have been Conscripted into the brotherhood Of loss…

Max Müller

I know well there is no comfort for this pain of parting: the wound always remains, but one learns to bear the pain, and learns to thank God for what He gave, for the beautiful memories of the past, and the yet more beautiful hope for the future.

Martha Whitmore Hickman

We can be a little more resistant to calls of duty, though responsibilities, too, can help us keep going. But if we tend to be superconscientious, we can relax a little…When we do go into social groups, we need not expect too much of ourselves or feel we have to be scintillating or muster up the small talk.

Henri J.M. Nouwen

As we feel the pain of our own losses, our grieving hearts open our inner eye to a world in which losses are suffered far beyond our own little world of family, friends, and colleagues. It is the world of prisoners, refugees, AIDS patients, starving children, and the countless human beings living in constant fear. Then the pain of our crying hearts connects us with the moaning and groaning of a suffering humanity. Then our mourning becomes larger than ourselves.

With Burning Hearts, Orbis Books, 1999, p.28.

May Sarton

…we talked in a kind of ocean depth of memories where magic fish swam past, as we evoked our parents and Joy’s sisters, all dead now but with us for an hour in that exquisite room where time past and time present flowed together.

Mark Twain

The mind has a dumb sense of vast loss—that is all. It will take mind and memory months and possibly years to gather the details and thus learn and know the whole extent of the loss.

Isak Dinesen

I think these difficult times have helped me to understand better than before how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way and that so many things that one goes around worrying about are of no importance whatsoever.

Karl Menninger

Weeping is perhaps the most human and universal of all relief measures.

James Agee

“She thought that she had never before had a chance to realize the strength that human beings have, to endure; she loved and revered all those who had ever suffered, even those who had failed to endure.”

Elie Wiesel

Whoever survives a test, whatever it may be, must tell the story. That is his duty.

Alfred Tennyson

’Tis better to have loved and lost Than never to have loved at all.

Julia Cameron

All artists must learn the art of surviving loss:

loss of hope, loss of face, loss of money, loss of

self-belief… Artistic losses can be turned into

artistic gains and strengths—but not in isola-

tion of the beleaguered artist’s brain…. We

must acknowledge it and share it.

The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron, 1992, Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, p.129.

Still Looking for inspiration?

Consider checking out our illustrations page on Loss. 

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