Deep and poignant distress or sadness, often caused by bereavement. When someone you love dies, you usually feel grief, but that is not the only cause of that emotion. I have felt grief when I've moved away from my friends and even when a favorite television program has been cancelled.

Grief can be heralded by loud weeping and tears, but sometimes only be a sense of strong melancholy. I try not to begrudge someone else's grief; when you feel it, you feel it genuine and hard, and there's no way around it. 

Sometimes, I have felt grief when I can't get online to surf on Everything2 -- but then I know it's time to go outside, get some sun, and drink a grape soda.

I commonly experience something I like to call delayed grief. I find it hard to cry in sad situations and even wish I could so as not to come off as a cold-hearted bitch. I'm really not, but I guess sometimes I just become numb. However, I don't escape feeling the grief. It will hit me hours, sometimes days later, when I'm least expecting it. Once, I was sitting in class quietly, and suddenly I stood up, threw a bag of crackers across the room and started bawling. It was only later that I realized that this was actually my way of dealing with the death of someone close to me. This event was long in the past, but I guess the grief took a while to get to me.

Grief is subtle; weed-like, it sends tendrils around your soul and spirit ever so softly.

Then at once, you discover grief has ensnared you. Grief is the gentle ,steady squeezing of ones entire being that leaves a lump in your throat and tear-stained cheeks.

It magnifies ones memories and makes everyday happenings become somehow, much more poignant. Grief seems to be a loutish guest, staying far longer than its welcome.

Then at once he is gone and all that is left is an epiphany of being all the better after your long fellowship with him.

There is immunity in reading, immunity in formal society, in office routine, in the company of old friends and in the giving of officious help to strangers, but there is no sanctuary in one bed from the memory of another. The past with its anguish will break through every defense-line of custom and habit; we must sleep and therefore we must dream.

Cyril Connolly
Critic and Essayist


I tell you, hopeless grief is passionless;
That only men incredulous of despair,
Half-taught in anguish, through the midnight air
Beat upward to God’s throne in loud access
Of shrieking and reproach. Full desertness,
In souls as countries, lieth silent-bare
Under the blanching, vertical eye-glare
Of the absolute Heavens. Deep-hearted man, express
Grief for thy Dead in silence like to death-
Most like a monumental statue set
In everlasting watch and moveless woe
Till itself crumble to the dust beneath.
Touch it; the marble eyelids are not wet:
If it could weep, it could arise and go.

-Elizabeth Barrett Browning
from Poems, 1844

grief again

the lover I know so well

I slide into your arms
so familiar
as if it is home to me

and I cycle through
anger, bargain,
I was never much for denial
that seems like cowardice
not to face truth
so familiar

I wonder if
I should take time off
as I promised myself
if needed to heal

do I want to heal

that is the question

I could work harder
until my immune system
fails again
and calls the strep
to put me down

I could sit in the chair
and this time

let the sand run out


Grief (?), n. [OE. grief, gref, OF. grief, gref, F. grief, L. gravis heavy; akin to Gr. ?, Skr. guru, Goth. ka?rus. Cf. Barometer, Grave, a., Grieve, Gooroo.]


Pain of mind on account of something in the past; mental suffering arising from any cause, as misfortune, loss of friends, misconduct of one's self or others, etc.; sorrow; sadness.

The mother was so afflicted at the loss of a fine boy, . . . that she died for grief of it. Addison.


Cause of sorrow or pain; that which afficts or distresses; trial; grievance.

Be factious for redress of all these griefs. Shak.


Physical pain, or a cause of it; malady.


This grief (cancerous ulcers) hastened the end of that famous mathematician, Mr. Harriot. Wood.

To come to grief, to meet with calamity, accident, defeat, ruin, etc., causing grief; to turn out badly. [Colloq.]

Syn. -- Affiction; sorrow; distress; sadness; trial; grievance. Grief, Sorrow, Sadness. Sorrow is the generic term; grief is sorrow for some definite cause -- one which commenced, at least, in the past; sadness is applied to a permanent mood of the mind. Sorrow is transient in many cases; but the grief of a mother for the loss of a favorite child too often turns into habitual sadness. "Grief is sometimes considered as synonymous with sorrow; and in this case we speak of the transports of grief. At other times it expresses more silent, deep, and painful affections, such as are inspired by domestic calamities, particularly by the loss of friends and relatives, or by the distress, either of body or mind, experienced by those whom we love and value." Cogan.See Affliction.


© Webster 1913.

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