There are few things in life harder than losing a child. When someone you know is grieving the loss of their child, it’s hard to know what to say. The truth is, there is no magic combination of words to unlock a shortcut to healing. Grief is a lifelong process. But while words can’t bring someone back, the effort at human connection is invaluable.
Tip: If someone you know is mourning the loss of an adult child, they might be struggling to tie up loose ends. To help them through the entire process, consider sharing our post-loss checklist.
If you can’t come up with just the right words to express your condolences, it’s okay. Writers, philosophers, and psychologists have written about trying to manage grief for years. Some of them could inspire you when it comes time to craft a sympathy message of your own. Here are some quotes that may provide some solace to grieving mothers:
1. “We do not "get over" a death. We learn to carry the grief and integrate the loss in our lives. In our hearts, we carry those who have died. We grieve and we love. We remember.” - Nathalie Himmelrich, Author of Grieving Parents: Surviving Loss as a Couple
This quote demonstrates that you don’t expect a mother who has lost a child to ever put it behind her. In a time when people often offer facile platitudes, a grieving mother will appreciate this unvarnished honesty.
2. “The sorrow we feel when we lose a loved one is the price we pay to have had them in our lives.” - Rob Liano, Author and Life Coach
Memories of a lost child may cause you pain at first. But ultimately, you will cherish those memories.
3. “Over time I have realized that in order to move forward, knowing that I must bring this wall with me, that the best way to do so is to metaphorically flood the soil near the wall with water, and have the wall float with me, instead of me having to carry it. Every act of love and kindness turns to water. Water and love can penetrate and move anything. It just takes time. I need to turn my wall into a raft.” - John A. Passaro, Author of Again: A Memoir
This saying perfectly encapsulates why it is so important to connect with a grieving mother. Even when you don’t know what to say you can still reach out. In trying, you are providing her much-needed support during her grief.
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4. “To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.” - Thomas Campbell, Poet
This quote is simple but incredibly effective. And, ironically enough, this single sentence has kept Thomas Campbell’s name in people’s hearts for more than 175 years.
5. “At the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of the summer: we remember them.” - Rabbi Sylvan Kamens and Rabbi Jack Riemer, Authors of A Litany of Remembrance
This simple line reminds you that the person you loved lives on in the world around you.
6."God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December.” - J.M. Barrie, Author
This quote expresses that even in the darkest, coldest times in your life, the beauty of your memories can bring you comfort.
7. “Most things will be okay eventually, but not everything will be. Sometimes you'll put up a good fight and lose. Sometimes you'll hold on really hard and realize there is no choice but to let go. Acceptance is a small, quiet room.”- Cheryl Strayed, Author of Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life
Sometimes the kindest thing you can do for someone is to let them know it’s okay not to be okay.
8. “I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are evil.” - J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King
Crying is an essential and cathartic part of the grieving process. Encourage it as a normal part of healing.
9. “Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break.” - William Shakespeare, Playwright
Over 400 years after Shakespeare penned these words, the reminder to talk about grief is still valuable.
10. “There is no right way to grieve; there is only your way to grieve and that is different for everyone.” - Nathalie Himmelrich, Author of Grieving Parents: Surviving Loss as a Couple
This is an important sentiment to express. People grieve in different ways. You can share this quote to let a mother know you support their grieving process. No matter what it looks like.
11. “A mother’s grief is as timeless as her love.” - Joanne Cacciatore, Professor and Public Speaker
When you lose a child, grief and love are two sides of the same coin. You cannot have one without the other.
12. “There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.” - Washington Irving, Author
Saltwater is thought to have healing properties. Tears operate on the same principle.
13. “There is no footprint too small to leave an imprint on this world.” - Author Unknown
The death of a child often feels senseless. This quote may help a mother find larger meaning to their loss.
14. “It is the capacity to feel consuming grief and pain and despair that also allows me to embrace love and joy and beauty with my whole heart. I must let it all in.”- Anna White, Author of Mended: Thoughts on Life, Love, and Leaps of Faith
This quote illuminates how grief can forge unknown levels of strength.
15. “What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.” - Helen Keller, Activist and Author
Because she was deaf and blind, Keller spent many years locked inside herself. That gives her words added resonance.
16. “It was love, and I lived in it. And it is grief, and I will carry it.” - Chloe Frayne, Poet
While many sympathy cards contain flowery language, this simple line has real emotional heft.
17. “The wound is the place where light enters you.” - Rumi, Poet
If you know a grieving mother who is spiritual, she may draw comfort from this quote.
18.“The pain passes, but the beauty remains.” - Renoir, Painter
Sometimes you need the reminder that while your pain is raw and real, eventually it will lessen until you can find beauty again.
19. “I did not take you with me/ but you were never left behind.” - Lang Leav, Author and Poet
Even if a child’s journey on Earth is ended too soon, their mother will always carry their memories with them.
20. "What is lovely never dies/ But passes into another loveliness/ Star-dust or sea-foam/ Flower or winged air.” - Thomas Bailey Aldrich, Author and Poet
Poets often can express ideas of life and death in an abstract yet meaningful way. In just a few words, Aldrich sums up how fleeting and ephemeral, yet beautiful life is.
21. "Grief is like the ocean; it comes in waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim." — Vicki Harrison
One of the hardest things about grief is that you can’t prepare for it. You have to learn about it at the moment. There is no way to prepare for the ups and downs. This quote reminds you that feeling overwhelmed is okay.
22. “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. That’s what this storm’s all about.” - Haruki Murakami, Author of Kafka on the Shore
Bad storms can make you feel like you’ve been pulled under. But hopefully, over time, the seas will become less rough.
23. “Sometimes, when one person is missing, the whole world seems depopulated.” - Alphonse de Lamartine, Poet and Writer
Children are the center of their parents’ world. When they die, parents may feel like the world has ended. Normalizing that reaction can help them feel less alone.
24. “The song is ended, but the melody lingers on.” - Irving Berlin, Songwriter
This poetic turn of phrase serves as a metaphor that even if someone isn’t present, their memory remains.
25. "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 Kubler-Ross M.D. and David Kessler, Authors of On Grief & Grieving
Kubler-Ross is one of the world’s leading authorities on grieving. Her plainspoken words have helped many people cope with loss.
26. “The healing power of even the most microscopic exchange with someone who knows in a flash precisely what you're talking about because she experienced that thing too cannot be overestimated.” - Cheryl Strayed, Author of Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life
If you have also experienced the loss of a child, you can offer a much-needed support to another grieving parent.
27. “When a parent dies, they are buried in the ground. When a child dies, they are buried in the parent’s heart.” - Korean Proverb
This proverb implies that there is a sense of finality when an adult passes away. The death of a child though is something unexpected and something you carry with you always.
28. “She was no longer wrestling with the grief, but could sit down with it as a lasting companion and make it a sharer in her thoughts.” - George Eliot, Novelist and Poet
This quote promises that in some distant future, grief will become more manageable.
30. "Throughout my life, there were a few hard days. Days where even when I tried to be happy, my heart still cracked and Mother’s Day was one of those. For others, it stood as a celebration. For me, it spoke of loss and failure.” - Brittainy C. Cherry, Author of Disgrace
Even though certain days will be painful after the loss of a child, those days slowly become fewer and further between. Sharing this quote could help a grieving mother by reminding her that some days will be easier than others.
Give Comfort to Grieving Mothers
Language is the ultimate connection between two people. Even though the right words don’t exist to end someone’s heartache, human connection matters. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a grieving mother. Even if you can’t ease her pain, the effort will mean a lot.
If you're looking for more to read to bring you or a loved one comfort, check our selections for the best books on grief.