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18 Poems & Quotes about Grief for the Holidays

18 Poems & Quotes about Grief for the Holidays

The holidays are just not the same without your loved one.

I've gathered these quotes about grief with the intention of helping us identify what we feel when the holidays come around and our loved ones are not there to celebrate. In doing so, may we feel seen and held in our grief.

Within these words I've highlighted certain phrases and linked them to a hand lettered art print in my shop (which you can explore here) that resonates and reflects that sentiment.

As this year gets closer to the next, I want to say how deeply grateful I am for your company and your support. It's a beautiful thing after loss.

Together, it's easier to make space for grief and for the love and joy that it stems from, which is the same love it inevitably returns to, if we allow that spaciousness.

May these quotes about grief comfort you, validate what you feel, and bring a little more light to the holidays.

You belong in the light, too.

Together, it's easier to make space for grief and for the love and joy that it stems from, which is the same love it inevitably returns to, if we allow that spaciousness. May these quotes about grief comfort you, validate what you feel, and bring a little more light to the holidays. You belong in the light, too.

18 Quotes about Grief for the Holidays

1.

The holiest of all holidays are those

Kept by ourselves in silence and apart;

The secret anniversaries of the heart,

When the full river of feeling overflows; 

The happy days unclouded to their close;

The sudden joys that out of darkness start

As flames from ashes; swift desires that dart

Like swallows singing down each wind that blows!

White as the gleam of a receding sail,

White as a cloud that floats and fades in air,

White as the whitest lily on a stream,

These tender memories are; — a fairy tale

Of some enchanted land we know not where,

But lovely as a landscape in a dream.

— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

 

2. We Remember Them

At the rising sun and at its going down; We remember them.

At the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter; We remember them.

At the opening of the buds and in the rebirth of spring; We remember them.

At the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of summer; We remember them.

At the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of the autumn; We remember them.

At the beginning of the year and when it ends; We remember them.

As long as we live, they too will live, for they are now a part of us as We remember them.

 

When we are weary and in need of strength; We remember them.

When we are lost and sick at heart; We remember them.

When we have decisions that are difficult to make; We remember them.

When we have joy we crave to share; We remember them.

When we have achievements that are based on theirs; We remember them.

For as long as we live, they too will live, for they are now a part of us as, We remember them.

— Sylvan Kamens & Rabbi Jack Riemer

 

3. I will Light Candles this Christmas

I will light Candles this Christmas;

Candles of joy despite all sadness,

Candles of hope where despair keeps watch,

Candles of courage for fears ever present,

 

Candles of peace for tempest-tossed days,

Candles of grace to ease heavy burdens,

Candles of love to inspire all my living,

Candles that will burn all the year long.”

— Howard Thurman

 

4.

That time

I thought I could not

go any closer to grief

without dying

I went closer, and I did not die.

Surely God

had his hand in this,

as well as friends.

Still, I was bent,

and my laughter,

as the poet said,

was nowhere to be found.

Then said my friend Daniel,

(brave even among lions),

“It’s not the weight you carry

but how you carry it —

books, bricks, grief —

it’s all in the way you embrace it, balance it, carry it

when you cannot, and would not,

put it down.”

So I went practicing.

Have you noticed?

Have you heard

the laughter

that comes, now and again,

out of my startled mouth?

How I linger to admire, admire, admire

the things of this world

that are kind, and maybe

also troubled —

roses in the wind,

the sea geese on the steep waves,

a love

to which there is no reply?

― Mary Oliver

 

5.

“Bereavement is not the truncation of married love,” C. S. Lewis wrote, “but one of its regular phases—like the honeymoon.” ― Paul Kalanithi

 

6.

Grief is different. 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. ― Joan Didion

 

7.

When someone is in your heart, they’re never truly gone. They can come back to you, even at unlikely times. — Mitch Albom

 

8.

Nature’s first green is gold,

Her hardest hue to hold.

Her early leaf’s a flower,

But only so an hour.

Then leaf subsides to leaf.

So Eden sank to grief.

So dawn goes down to day.

Nothing gold can stay.

— Robert Frost

 

9.

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. — Elisabeth Kübler- Ross and David Kessler

 

10.

What we have once enjoyed deeply we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us. — Helen Keller

 

11.

And that is just the point… how the world, moist and beautiful, calls to each of us to make a new and serious response. That’s the big question, the one the world throws at you every morning. "Here you are, alive. What would you like to do with your one wild and precious life?” — Mary Oliver

 

12.

Do not bottle up anger inside. Instead, explore it. The anger is just another indication of the intensity of your love. — Elisabeth Kübler- Ross and David Kessler

 

13.

She wondered that hope was so much harder than despair. — Patricia Briggs

 

14.

And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. — Haruki Murakami

 

15.

Hope is not logical. It always comes as a surprise, just when you think all hope is lost. Hope is the cousin to grief, and both take time: you can’t short-circuit grief, or emptiness, and you can’t patch it up... You have to take the next right action. — Anne Lamott

 

16.

“Perhaps,” said the man, “You would like to be lost with us. I have found it much more agreeable to be lost in the company of others.” — Kate DiCamillo

 

17.

When we lose people we love , we don’t mourn the past — we mourn un-lived tomorrows. We mourn the loss of people who knew us thoroughly and loved us anyway, and future memories that will never be made. — James Russell Lingerfelt

 

18.

I discover that grief means living with someone who is not there. — Jeanette Winterson

. . .

Tell me:

Which of these quotes about grief struck a chord with you? How do you honor, remember, cherish your loved one during the holiday season?

Tell me in the comments.

What you share here means more than you know.

With warmth,

Jen

P.S. Want words like these in your inbox? Sign up for Tuesday emails and you'll also get my Healing Brave Manifesto (plus weekly giveaways) totally free.

Comments on this post (5)

  • Jan 02, 2022

    Sonya, thank you for sharing your heart and sadness, prayer and hope with me and with us. It means more than I can express in words, truly. Sending the warmth of my heart and empathy to you, your son and family, as you do your best to move forward without leaving anything precious or joyful or bright behind. I am so very sorry for the loss of your granddaughter. May you all find peace this year, may you be greeted by blessings unexpected. x

    — Jennifer Williamson

  • Jan 02, 2022

    Thank you so much for this. I am a grief counselor, but also navigating my own grief. I appreciate what you have shared here. It touched my heart.

    — Laura Beth Calabrese

  • Jan 02, 2022

    Jen,

    Thank you for this beautiful collection of poems and quotes.

    — Jim

  • Jan 02, 2022

    Thanks

    — Karen

  • Jan 02, 2022

    Dear Jen,
    I must say that each of these 18 quotes struck a cord in me and that I want to save each so that I can savor on another day. As the holidays bring so much to do as we hustle and bustle and prepare to gather and be merry, even as we bring our brokenness hidden within, we cope. I have always found that “it is in giving that we receive” and focussing on giving to my loved ones in gifts or time or even baking goodies they love, helps me not to get lost in sadness And giving myself time, like in #1-Henry Longfellow’s- “The holiest of all holidays are those Kept by ourselves in silence and apart; . . , . I need to give myself time, on my knees, time alone, to pray(speak with God) and to meditate(listen to God) and to share my thoughts with a friend whom I trust or to write my feelings and purge, or to paint while listening to my inspiring play list. As there are too many in all 18 to give comment to, I will also mention #18- Jeanette Winterson- “I discover that grief is living with someone who is not there” . . . . I honor my loved ones who have past by talking to them wether in prayer at home, in the car, at the cemetery or by the alters of memorial to them in my space. I actually have a blanket of my sweet grandaughter(who passed 2years ago in September, 5 days short of 3 months old) with photos of her lovely face. I kiss her each day and send loving thoughts.
    I do struggle though with my son, her dad in his presence. I feel his deep pain, and try to lift him up as best I can but I know his pain and I know I cannot dispell it or make it any better, nor am I supposed to Just difficult to be merry or sad with him. We will try though, to just let it be and let it flow wherever it goes.
    Thank you for sharing these inspiring quotes and your loving thoughts 🙏❤️🎄
    Merry Christmas and may the peace, love and joy of our Lords birth flow through the new year and always
    ❤️Sonya

    — Sonya

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