Great Proverbs About Death and Mourning

Select sayings about death, grief, and mourning from various cultures

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While words can never fully express how much someone means to us, language can still provide comfort, solace, hope, and even inspiration following the death of a loved one. Proverbs and folk sayings about death, grief, and mourning from a variety of cultural traditions can sometimes speak the words you are unable to express yourself.

There are a great variety of cultural traditions surrounding death, as well as different emotions and perspectives on what it means. From honoring a person who died to supporting the living, to adding a touch of humor, these time-honored proverbs reflect these vast differences.

Words of Inspiration After a Death

Proverbs and sayings may be helpful in many different ways after the loss of a loved one. They might comfort you as you are mourning alone. They may help you as you write a eulogy, or pen a condolence letter to a loved one. They can be particularly helpful when you are simply trying to find the right words, and need a little inspiration.

Sayings That Honor a Person Who Has Died

Everyone dies, but it can be particularly painful when a loved one who was particularly good to us dies.

  • Say not in grief he is no more, but live in thankfulness that he was.
  • Good men must die, but death cannot kill their names.

Proverbs That Remind Us That Our Loved Ones Live on Through Us

While your loved one has gone, their memory remains. And as much as that memory remains a part of you, it remains alive.

  • As long as we live, they too will live, for they are now a part of us, as we remember them.
  • Only love gives us a taste of eternity.
  • The only truly dead are those who have been forgotten.

Proverbs That Express Grief in Those Who Remain

Grief is painful, and at times you may feel your heart is literally breaking. Viewing tears as cleansing, and receiving the sympathy of others, can be healing during this time.

  • What soap is for the body, tears are for the soul.
  • God is closest to those with broken hearts.
  • Sympathy is a little medicine to soothe the ache in another's heart.

Proverbs That View Death as a Normal Part of Life

Some cultures view death as a very normal part of life on a continuum. In other societies, it's almost forgotten that everyone must someday die.

  • Life is not separate from death. It only looks that way.
  • Everything revolves around bread and death.
  • One is certain only of death.
  • There is no one who can jump so high as to escape death.
  • Who is old and doesn't believe it, will trip into his grave without seeing it.
  • All who have died are equal.
  • Death doesn't knock on the door.

Proverbs That Help in Letting Go

It's important to honor those who have gone before us, and it can be very hard to let go. Even though a loved one would wish us to move on and enjoy our lives, it's a difficult step to take. It might be helpful to remember that you will always grieve the loss of your loved one, but that grief will become less acute in time. In fact, after a time, remembering your loved one may bring more comfort than pain.

  • All things grow with time except grief.
  • Who dies, dies, and who lives, lives.
  • Live your own life, for you will die your own death.

Proverbs That Remind Us To Live Our Lives Today

A death is a reminder to all of us that our lives are finite. Sometimes seeing death is a reminder to live today. 

  • If you start thinking of death, you are no longer sure of life.
  • Everybody will undergo the sentence of the grave.
  • There is no rich person in a grave.
  • As long as man lives, the entire world is too small for him. After death, the grave is big enough.
  • Live that people may speak well of thee at they grave. The just needs no memorial, for his deeds are his monument.
  • Death doesn't just look through the book of the old.

Proverbs About Death With a Touch of Humor

There is a time for everything. Humor is not the usual "go to" following a death but can be very helpful in the right setting. Sometimes a bit of humor can be a blessing during deep grief. At other times, it may help those who are coping with strained pre-death relationships.

  • Old age is not as honorable as death, but most people want it.
  • He who comes for the inheritance is often made to pay for the funeral.
  • If the rich could hire someone else to die for them, the poor would make a wonderful living.
  • To pay and to die... as late as possible.
  • An advantage of poverty: your relatives gain nothing by your death.
  • Make sure to send a lazy man for the Angel of Death.
  • What you give for the cause of charity in health is gold; what you give in sickness is silver; what you give after death is lead.

Miscellaneous Death Proverbs

There are many death proverbs that wouldn't be appropriate for a memorial service but reflect on death in other ways.

  • As long as a man lives, the entire world is too small for him. After death, the grave is big enough.
  • Everything revolves around bread and death.
  • The death of an elderly man is like a burning library.
  • The ugliest life is better than the nicest death.
  • The whole world is a dream, and death the interpreter.
  • There is a cure for everything except death.

Words For Coping With Death

Words in proverbs, poetry, and prose can often describe feelings you're unable to express alone. Poems about death and loss can add another dimension, and describe emotions more fully at times. Death and grief quotations may also capture what you are trying to express, whether it is silent as you go through your own grief, or as you write a eulogy.

A Word From Verywell on Death Proverbs

If you've arrived here looking for proverbs about death, it's likely you are grieving. Whether the person you have lost was very close, or whether your relationship was strained or ended prior to death, your heart will be tender. There is a sense of loss no matter the type of relationship you had, and no matter how close you were. 

Losing those very close to us is painful. But losing those more distant hurts deeply as well. Not only for the times together but for the memories which are inevitably stirred in your heart concerning previous losses. Losing someone very close to your heart is like losing a part of yourself. Yet losing someone who is not so near, someone you are estranged from, perhaps, is remarkably painful as well. In death, the door is closed against hope of something different in the future. 

If you are grieving, give yourself time. Everyone grieves differently and for different periods of time. There isn't a right or wrong way to grieve, only the way that is right for you. 

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