A Grief Support Blog

This blog will allow you the opportunity to acquire both support and guidance after experiencing a significant loss.

Grief Quotes: "Killer clichés" about loss

Updated December 17, 2019

We have all been educated on how to acquire things. We have been taught how to get an education, get a job, buy a house, etc. You can take courses in virtually anything that might interest you. 

What education do we receive about dealing with loss? What school do you choose, to learn to deal with the conflicting feelings caused by significant emotional loss? 

Grief and Loss are so much more predictable and inevitable than gain, and yet we are woefully ill-prepared to deal with loss. To make matters worse, society helps promote these killer cliches or quotes about grief and loss. Let's explore some of these loss quotes and clichés...

Killer Cliche #1

The myth that time heals all wounds.jpg

One of the most damaging killer clichés about loss is time heals all wounds. When we present open lectures on The Grief Recovery Method, we often ask if anyone is still feeling pain, isolation, or loneliness as the result of the death of someone important to them 20 or more years ago. There are always several hands raised in response to that question. Then we gently ask, "If time is going to heal our hearts, then 20 years still isn't enough?"

Recovery from loss is the result of actions taken within time, but it need not take as much time as you have been led to believe. Recovery is totally individual and there is no absolute time frame. Sometimes in an attempt to conform to other people's time frames, we do ourselves great harm.

Killer Cliche #2

This idea leads us to another of the killer clichés, "You should be over it by now." It’s bad enough that well-meaning, well-intentioned friends attack us with killer clichés, it’s worse when we start picking on ourselves with grieving quotes like this. We start believing that we are defective or somehow deficient because we haven't recovered yet.

If we take just these two killer clichés, we can see that they have something in common. They both imply that a non-action will have some therapeutic or recovery value. In other words, by waiting and letting some time pass, we will heal. Let's add a third cliché to the batch,

Killer Cliche #3

"You have to keep busy." Many grievers follow this incorrect advice and work two or three jobs. They fill their time with endless tasks and chores. At the end of any given day, asked how they feel, invariably they report that their heart still feels broken; that all they accomplished by staying busy was to get exhausted.

With only three basic killer clichés we can severely limit and restrict our ability to participate in effective recovery. It is not only that people around us tell us these bereavement quotes or clichés in an attempt to help, but we ourselves learned and practiced these false beliefs for most of our lives. It is time for us to learn some new and helpful beliefs to assist us in grieving and completing relationships that have ended or changed.

loss quotes grief quotes when someone dies quote what to do when we loss someone


I have heard that it takes two years to get over the death of a loved one; five years to get over the death of a parent; and you never get over the death of a child.

Is this true?


Part of the problem is the phrase “get over” and what this implies. It’s more accurate to say that you would never forget a child who had died, anymore than you would ever forget a parent or a loved one. Another part of the problem is that time, of itself, is a recovery action. Although recovery from loss does take some time, it is the actions within time that lead to successful recovery.

The primary goal of The Grief Recovery Method is to help you grieve and complete relationships that have ended or changed. Using The Grief Recovery Method allows you to have fond memories not turn painful and helps you retake a happy and productive place in your own life. In addition, you regain the ability to begin new relationships, rather than attempting to replace or avoid past relationships.

To better define grief and understand what it is, we suggest you read our grief blog on The Best Definition of Grief You Will Find

To learn more about grief myths we suggest you download our FREE eBook on the Myths of Grief.

Free book grief loss death divorce recovery



I remember when someone told me I "should be over it within 2 weeks after it occurred" or he would "think there's something wrong with you."

Two weeks after my daughter's dad died (he was my former husband) they were still looking for people who might have still been alive. They weren't even sure they'd found all the people who were, although they were sure enough to issue death certificates 18 days later. Even when they had no physical evidence to make it a 'confirmed death' as opposed to 'confirmed missing.' Which nobody seemed to understand made me feel like I had to react differently to a 'confirmed missing' b/c my brain kept coming up with ways to fool itself into thinking 'confirmed missing' means they could find him alive after the towers collapsed.

It's really hard to explain. And then there was the complete lack of privacy that we had b/c FBI agents, news reporters and all types of other people that we didn't even know had to do things and say stuff to us, and it felt like we had absolutely no private time in which to begin grieving anyway. And I felt like we couldn't do it without being compared to other family members from different families that the press chose to hold up as examples of "truly dignified grievers." And of course it was a person who wasn't crying over it or acting as if she were shattered by it, not on the outside anyway.

Then I remember someone who said "That happened clear back in 2001, you should be way over that by now."

And it was 2003. My brother was in Iraq and I was concerned that I was about to lose a second family member to terrorism, but all someone else could say is that my "intensely scared reaction is abnormal" and that I need to "get a hold of myself" and I truly thought that meant they didn't care one whit that something could happen to my brother at any second. Not the way they got so angry about it.

All these people were from church or work. It didn't take any time at all to figure out that I'm either going to stop being upset about it or leave. And I couldn't leave work, so I stopped being upset about it. But I did leave church, b/c their response felt too uncaring after they were always saying how much they DID care. But I knew I'd never be able to fool them into thinking I'm not angry with God or had lost my trust in Him, so I left.

I haven't returned for a year, mostly b/c now I feel like I'll be a hypocrite if I pretend a trust someone that I feel no trust at all. Incidentally, I also feel terrible for losing my trust, but the feeling alone hasn't been enough to convince me to trust God. It's really quite a mess, b/c everywhere I go, I'm expected to trust God or hear about not trusting Him, about how that's "not right."

So right now I no longer go to church.

I know almost how you feel. You definitely hit on several points, of my feelings. Especially about people not understanding and making you feel looney, and tell you they don't want to hear the "doom and gloom." Then something else traumatic happens, and you double up on those feelings.

I believe in God and rely on him, on my own.

I'm very honest, and can't be around people that talk one way, and then ACT another.....

OR act like you've lost your mind.

Just because we have something mental and emotional going on doesn't mean we are harmful to people being around us. It's best to let it out than hold it in.

You will implode on yourself if you do that. I've been there....

Actions to me speak "louder" than words.....

I wish you well in however you may come to deal with this.

Thanks so much. I was blown away with the exercise of "raise your hand if you still miss someone after 20 years." So true that time does not heal everything. Just starting to read the book about family members I have lost over the last 30 years. When several die over a stretch of time, it feels like grief soup. Not sure who I am missing on sorrowful days and why I suddenly start crying. Thanks to all of you who are admitting you feel what I feel, makes me not feel so alone.

I will be attending your training in Chicago this week and hope that I can learn and REMEMBER enough to help when dealing with others' needs.

Thanks for the email articles. At least I can see that I've done the right thing sometime.

Tim Reed

Thanks Tim. I know you'll have an incredible experience this weekend. Advance welcome to our extended family. Russell & John and the Grief Recovery Method team.

My husband died 5 years ago from cancer. I continue to get waves of grief and sorrow. I'm not expecting those feelings to ever go away. I have gotten better about getting on with my life but I will always have a hole in my heart.

Hello Hindy,

Thank you for your comment. Please let us know if you would like to find out about any of the services we offer. We might have a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist in your area. You can find them in our online directory by clicking this link http://www.griefrecoverymethod.com/outreach-program/

I recently lost an ex-spouse, we had two children together, we were estranged, however when I think of what she must have went through battling cancer so bravely as she did, I become very emotional, I really feel hurt, sorrow, and I pray for her everyday, my kids are going through a lot it is just unbearable sometimes, anyone have any advice I am concerned that I may be falling into depression, I also lost a very good friend to cancer she was the type of person who would listen and be there for you no matter what, I had called her a few times before she passed away, however when someone picked up the phone they said it was the wrong number but I recognized her voice, then one day, an online obituary.

I thought that she did not want for me to see her go through her last days, to this day I still do not know why....

Then my cousin Bobby, passed after such a long illness, he was on a heart transplant list, finally after two years, a donor match.....he was so happy, he went in to have the transplant, his body rejected the heart and he passed, they all had so much courage, and were all much too young to leave....good people, good parents......when I speak to people about it, they tell me "you have to get over it", I know that I do, but no matter where I go in this world....whether driving or flying, their memories come up at some point or another, I just cannot forget.

The pain is becoming unbearable......I do not know who to speak to, seems like I hit a brick wall all the time.

The beginning of this article it was stated that we were taught how to get educated, work, etc. And I understand the message, however, my losses are not having or modeled these crucial attributes. As an adult, just grieving these realities are a challenge above measure. Its difficult to grieve things we never had. Growing up late is a killer! Thank you for your book. Im reading it and using with a helper.

I have a similar experience ... because I was born in 1965 and not aborted or given for adoption I was neglected and hated because I was the result of an affair mother had with her husbands brother ... I didn't find out about the paternity until 2001 . I was the youngest of her 5 kids and discluded from every family function. The pain is everyone knew but held the secret to protect the man and his family ~ no regard to how it destroyed my life .. I was beaten at the age of 3 and I have SN incomplete spinal cord injury .. metal rods and screws hold it together .. I've been lied to, trashed and denied a proper education... every possible obstacle was put to me without remorse. The hardest part is the triggers.. the oldest who has the answers to my questions but refuses to help is a principle at a high school near me and on the news last week the school board announced a zero toletence on bullying. As she witnessed what happened and shunned me for it is a bully in my eyes and I'm bothered that she's in a position that influences young minds. I'm 49 and disabled ~ unable to work for the past year because of the damage to my spine just keeps increasing and I can barely care for myself and home. I can't even say how I feel because I'm just numb and overwhelmed with my situation. I'm not suicidal ~that I know of ~ but its a process and I don't think anyone knows when they've reached their threshold in time for intervention .. that's IF anyone even cares.. sorry I've said way too much. I wish you all the best on your journies.

I'm divorced from my first husband; married again and then was a widow 6 years after

I married. I tell people who have lost someone, you don't get over it; you get through it with help. And if you loved them, then you will always miss them. I wouldn't change that, because I'd have to love them less, and I don't choose that.

Joan, I am very sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your story!

I agree that folks really need to be careful about the "clichés", which in many ways are assumptions about how things are or should be and progress. And as those of us who have suffered trauma and heartbreak - there are no set in stone rules about grief. However, might I respectfully add another word that is more (to me) disturbing and non-compassionate than all the clichés put together? "Sorry for your Loss". No. I did not Lose anyone. No one has been lost. And one doesn't even need to be a faithful adherent to any religious belief. Love is eternal. And for some, even more powerful after someone's passing, for the true depth of our love is revealed through the depth of our pain. I did not "Lose" my parents. And I was with them in their illnesses and I was the primary caregiver to my mother during her illness with brain cancer (she lived with me). No. Please don't give me condolences for my loss. Loved ones are our greatest blessings, both on this earth, and through eternity. Please don't frame my holy, sacred, heartbreaking experience and passage in being witness to the most tender and tragic times that most humans will encounter - as a "loss". I am sorry that you are experiencing deep grief and heartbreak because of your loved one's passing. May their memory be eternal. And may you be comforted in all your days.

One of the hardest things we can do as adult children of abuse, is to forgive, ie give up the justifieable anger at those who harmed us, physically mentally emotionally and financially, in order to cut the bond that connects us to that pain, a pain which prevents us from moving forward, and ties us to someone sin (if I may use that word) YOU are not guilty of anything, others are. So examine what you do know, make a list of the events-forgive the easy ones, create scenarios in your head as may as you can and forgive them identify your pain, on paper, and choose to release your justified anger, confusion, disillusion, injustice against you, unconcious guilt of childhood ie it must be because of me that no one ........ your list is going to be very long make it as long as necessary to allow you to make a complete list of your grievances. and it will take some time to forgive and release. For particularly difficult ones who may have to walk in another shoes to understand, which does not let them off the hook for what they did, but it does serve to remind you that each person is human and flawed. again identify your emotions you made me feel, I am angry , I am disappointed, and by forgiving you let go of your attachment to them, you cut the bars that imprison you in these unhealthy relationships ie they keep you angry and inflamed. By cutting these bonds with forgiveness, you don't release them, from responsiblity for their behaviour, you release yourself. You give yourself emotional and mental freedom and space to invite new relationships. Basically for you the bars vanish, for them until they do their own work are still imprisoned.

If you truly want to know who your parent is, after you are done Then there are things you can do to find out.

Once you have worked on forgiving, don't forget to forgive yourself you were an innocent child in need of what every child is entitled to and to many don't get, Love acceptance, a place in a loving family. So maybe you build your own family, Until then One day at a time, one act of forgiveness at a time. God bless.

thank you very much gan , the article is very interesting that we can refer to.

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