Grief

Quotations about Grief

“We are remade in times of grief, broken apart and reassembled. It is hard, painful, and unbidden work.” – Francis Weller in The Wild Edge of Sorrow – Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief  

“There is some strange intimacy between grief and aliveness, some sacred exchange between what seems unbearable and what is most exquisitely alive.” – Francis Weller in The Wild Edge of Sorrow – Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief  

“Facing grief is hard work. … It takes outrageous courage to face outrageous loss. This is precisely what we are being called to do.” – Francis Weller in The Wild Edge of Sorrow

“Her grief was dignified and hidden, as is most grief, which is partly why there is always so much of it to go around.” – from The Yellow Birds, by Kevin Powers

“Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.” – from the Talmud

“I think of the trees and how simply they let go, let fall the riches of a season, how without grief (it seems) they can let go and go deep into their roots for renewal and sleep. …Imitate the trees. Learn to lose in order to recover, and remember that nothing stays the same for long, not even pain, psychic pain. Sit it out. Let it all pass. Let it go.” – May Sarton, poet/novelist, “Journal of a Solitude”

“For in this world of ours where everything withers, everything perishes, there is a thing that decays, that crumbles into dust even more completely, leaving behind still fewer traces of itself, than beauty: namely, grief.” – Marcel Proust, quoted in The Open Road – The Global Journey of the 14th Dalai Lama, by Pico Iyer

“Life is a joyful participation in a world of sorrows.” – Buddhist thought (quoted in The Open Road – The Global Journey of the 14th Dalai Lama, by Pico Iyer)

From a 2014 post called ‘Bearing Witness’: “We can remain in denial about the ecocide we are all witness to, as the cult of optimism would have us do, or we can acknowledge and embrace the sorrow that is a natural response to loss, devastation and catastrophe. In grief we make a choice to honor the lost and their existence. We speak in a clear voice, to anyone who will listen, that their lives mattered. And we are also forced to face our own mortality in the process.

Agreeing to walk through our grief honestly can be a catalyst for creative defiance and undaunted dissent. It is perhaps the only resistance we can offer to the insistence of apathy imposed on us from the wraiths on Wall Street and Madison Avenue. The unnatural barriers they have erected to mask our humanity crumble in the rancid pile they deserve when a soul is set free to grieve. It is in grief that we find ourselves to be inseparable from each other, and from the nature from which we are all born. In this way, sorrow is the only coherent answer to extinction. It is a wail of conscience.

Bearing witness to the unprecedented crime of ecocide sweeping our planet is not accepting the carnage, it is lending another voice to testify on the behalf of the victims. And in doing so, it succeeds in making the difficult case for the worth of the human soul.” – Kenn Orphan from his 2014 post 'Bearing Witness’       

 “A broken heart is an open heart.” – Gretel Ehrlich, nature writer, Shambhala Sun (Jan. 2005)

“The heart that breaks open can contain the whole universe.” – Joanna Macy

 “Those who don’t know how to weep with their whole heart don’t know how to laugh either.” – Golda Meir (1898 – 1978), Israeli prime minister

“All great spirituality is about what we do with our pain. If we do not transform our pain, we will transmit it to those around us.” – Richard Rohr 

“[T]hose who insist they’ve got their ‘shit together’ are usually standing in it at the time.” – Stephen Levine

“Safety is the most unsafe spiritual path you can take. Safety keeps you numb and dead. People are caught by surprise when it is time to die. They have allowed themselves to live so little.” – Stephen Levine

“Who better than the lion guy to address the sensationalizing of petty sorrows, while the underlying context, which was the terminal illness of the world, remained unrevealed?” – page 286 of the novel The Fourth Hand, by John Irving

“The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.” – Kahlil Gibran

“I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.” – Agatha Christie

“If you can’t say something, you can’t see it either.” – Stephen Jenkinson in Die Wise – A Manifesto for Sanity and Soul

** Francis Weller on grief

** There are quite a few postings about grief on this site, most of them collected up in the Collections posting.

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** 2 useful items about dealing with the current human situation: