Sermon quotes on grief

Wendell Berry

Since her first grief had brought her fully to birth and wakefulness in this world, an unstinting compassion had moved in her, like a live stream flowing deep underground, by which she knew herself and others and the world.

Phillips Brooks

People bring us well-meant but miserable consolations when they tell us what time will do to help our grief. We do not want to lose our grief, because our grief is bound up with our love and we could not cease to mourn without being robbed of our affections.

Robert Farrar Capon

You could put the meaning of original sin this way: given a choice we would rather sulk than rejoin the party.

Anton Chekhov

Should his heart break and the grief pour out, it would flow over the whole earth, it seems, and yet, no one sees it.

John Chrysostom

Let no one grieve at his poverty,

for the universal kingdom has been revealed.

Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again;

for forgiveness has risen from the grave.

Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Savior has set us free.

He has destroyed it by enduring it.

Sermon, CA. 400

Lindsey Coffman

Almost a year after our infant son was born dead, a woman at church talked about him, using his name in a conversation, and I almost wept with gratitude! I didn’t realize how much it hurt that everyone tried not to talk about him to protect me from further pain, when really the most pain was from others dodging his existence at every turn.,

Taken from Nancy Guthrie, What Grieving People Wish You Knew about What Really Helps (and What Really Hurts)

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!

Joan Didion

Grief has no distance…Grief comes in waves, paroxysms, sudden apprehensions that weaken the knees and blind the eyes and obliterate the dailiness of life.

The Year of Magical Thinking, Vintage.

Dag Hammarskjöld

The present moment is significant, not as the bridge between past and future, but by reason of its contents, contents which can fill our emptiness and become ours, if we are capable of receiving them.

George Herbert

Was ever grief like mine?

George Herbert

Grief melts away Like snow in May, As if there were no such cold thing.

Michael Hollings

There is no way out, only a way forward.

Gerard Manley Hopkins

No worst, there is none. Pitched past pitch of grief,

More pangs will, schooled at forepangs, wilder wring.

Comforter, where, where is your comforting?

Mary, mother of us, where is your relief?

My cries heave, herds-long; huddle in a main, a chief

Woe, wórld-sorrow; on an áge-old anvil wince and sing —

Then lull, then leave off. Fury had shrieked ‘No ling-

ering! Let me be fell: force I must be brief.”‘

O the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of fall

Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed. Hold them cheap

May who ne’er hung there. Nor does long our small

Durance deal with that steep or deep. Here! creep,

Wretch, under a comfort serves in a whirlwind: all

Life death does end and each day dies with sleep.

No worst, there is none, in Poems and Prose, Penguin Classics, 1985.

Judy Joyce

In the hospital cafeteria one day with my pastor, I said, “I’m not sure I can hold on to God through this.” He answered, “You can’t hold on to him, but he will hold on to you.” That gave me such comfort—knowing I could just let God hold on to me, and he has.

Taken from Nancy Guthrie, What Grieving People Wish You Knew about What Really Helps (and What Really Hurts)

Sue Monk Kidd

To fashion an inner story of our pain carries us into the heart of it, which is where rebirth inevitably occurs.

Woodrow Kroll

We rejoice in spite of our grief, not in place of it.

C.S. Lewis

No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing.

A Grief Observed, Bantam.

C.S. Lewis

I think I am beginning to understand why grief feels so much like suspense. It comes from the frustration of so many impulses that have become habitual…I keep on through habit fitting an arrow to the string; then I remember and have to lay the bow down.

Mal McKissock and Dianne McKissock

Bereaved people do not grieve in stages—grief is not linear, but is chaotic—an ‘all over the shop’ experience.

Coping With Grief 4th Edition, ABC Books, 2012, p. 7.

Mal McKissock and Dianne McKissock

After the adrenalin rush of the death and funeral, bereaved people often feel deserted and overwhelmed with loneliness.

Coping With Grief 4th Edition, ABC Books, 2012, p.10.

Mal McKissock and Dianne McKissock

In the beginning, pain seems to be a constant, overwhelming companion until we gradually become familiar with its intensity, and therefore less fearful. The time spent in peaks of pain slowly decreases and the time between peaks becomes longer, providing necessary periods of relief. Initially, relief may be short lived, perhaps just minutes of respite which gradually stretch into hours, days, weeks. We don’t ‘get over’ grief—it just changes shape and intensity as we learn how to live in the physical absence of the person or persons we love.

Coping With Grief 4th Edition, ABC Books, 2012, p. 12.

Mal McKissock and Dianne McKissock

Put simply, depression is ‘of the head’—that is, an illness involving the way we think—and grief is ‘of the heart’, the way we feel.

Coping With Grief 4th Edition, ABC Books, 2012, p. 21.

Mal McKissock and Dianne McKissock

People in support roles should resist any temptation to say ‘I know how you feel’, even if they have also experienced the pain of grief. We can never really know how another feels—we can only use our own experience to help us sensitively imagine a little of another person’s distress. It is much more helpful to ask a bereaved person to ‘tell me what is happening for you’.

Coping With Grief 4th Edition, ABC Books, 2012, p. 29.

Archibald McLeish

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

Mary Jane Moffat

Feeling better…I also felt a sense of betrayal of my husband, even though I rationally knew that sustained grief could be morbid. Because grief may become a substitute for the dead one, giving up our grief can be the greatest challenge of mourning.

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

The five stages ̶  denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance  ̶  are a part of the framework that makes up our learning to live with the one we lost. They are tools to help us frame and identify what we may be feeling. But they are not stops on some linear timeline in grief.

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

People in mourning have to come to grips with death before they can live again. Mourning can go on for years and years. It doesn’t end after a year; that’s a false fantasy. It usually ends when people realize that they can live again, that they can concentrate their energies on their lives as a whole, and not on their hurt, and guilt, and pain.

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be

whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.


Those who grieve find comfort in weeping and in arousing their sorrow until the body is too tired to bear the inner emotions.

Hannah More

In grief we know the worst of what we feel, But who can tell the end of what we fear?

Henri Nouwen

Real grief is not healed by time…If time does anything, it deepens our grief. The longer we live, the more fully we become aware of who she was for us, and the more intimately we experience what her love meant for us. Real, deep love is, as you know, very unobtrusive, seemingly easy and obvious, and so present that we take it for granted. Therefore, it is often only in retrospect—or better, in memory—that we fully realize its power and depth. Yes, indeed, love often makes itself visible in pain.

Marcel Proust

…there is no more ridiculous custom than the one that makes you express sympathy once and for all on a given day to a person whose sorrow will endure as long as his life. Such grief, felt in such a way, is always “present,” it is never too late to talk about it, never repetitious to mention it again.


Light griefs can speak; great ones are dumb.

William Shakespeare

Everyone can master a grief but he that has it.

William Shakespeare

Is there no pity sitting in the clouds,

That sees into the bottom of my grief?

William Shakespeare

Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak

knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break.


William Shakespeare

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.


Grief teaches the steadiest minds to waver.

Charles Spurgeon

This day, my God, I hate sin not because it damns me, but because it has done Thee wrong. To have grieved my God is the worst grief to me.

Algernon Charles Swinburne

And time remembered is grief forgotten,

And frosts are slain and flowers begotten,

And in green underwood and cover

Blossom by blossom the spring begins.

Alfred Tennyson

I sometimes hold it half a sin

To put in words the grief I feel;

For words, like nature, half reveal

And half conceal the Soul within.

Sylvia Townsend Warner

Even desolation is a world to be explored.

Isaac Watts

For one drop calls another down, till we are drowned in seas of grief.

Jack Wellman

Joy is best sown in broken ground.

Granger E. Westberg

Shock is a temporary escape from reality. As long as it is temporary, it is good. But if a person should prefer to remain in this dreamworld rather than face the reality of his loss, obviously it would be very unhealthy.

Good Grief, 50th Anniversary Edition, Fortress Press, 2010.

Sylvia Townsend Warner

Even desolation is a world to be explored.

Terry Tempest Williams

Grief dares us to love once more.

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.

C.S. Lewis

In grief nothing “stays put.”

A Grief Observed (New York: HarperOne, 1994), 56.

Sylvia Townsend Warner

Even desolation is a world to be explored.

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