Grief Metaphors, Analogies, and Similes

Last month we asked our readers to share their grief metaphors, analogies, and similes. I had made the observation that grief sometimes seems like a chronic condition that you live with forever, and I wondered what other metaphors our readers use to describe grief.

We received quite a few responses in the comments section of the article, Grief is Like…, and over 100 responses on Facebook. We’ve summarized a handful of the submissions below and we encourage you to visit the original posts to read the entries in their entirety.

Grief is like…

Grief is like a catastrophic physical injury ~ Louise

Grief is like riding a roller coaster that never stops without a seatbelt. ~ Kris

Grief is like getting up every day to a job you hate and which you feel completely unskilled for. ~ Louise

Grief is like trying to comprehend what is beyond comprehension. ~Amy

Grief is like a shadow. ~Ann

Grief is like waiting for a bomb to go off. ~ Joni

Grief is like a mixture of recreating an identity and a bittersweet processing of memory. ~Peter

Grief is like trying to sort through the rubble of what’s left of your life after the earthquake of loss has hit. ~ Cathy Lee

Grief is like walking through hip-high mud. ~ Loretta

Grief is like being a walking dead zombie. ~Jackie

Grief is like crazy weather. Sometimes showers and storms pop up when you least expect them. ~LauraJay

Grief is like walking in the dark and feeling your way as you slowly go. ~ Deb

Grief is like a guilty addiction, reminding you of a time when your life was right. ~ Geri

Grief is like a boomerang, it keeps coming back and wounding you anew. ~Susan

Grief is like an image which recalls a bad acid trip. ~ Phyllis

Grief is like being extremely homesick but knowing your home no longer exists. ~ Leesa

Grief is like a constant pain that never goes away and is worsened by “triggers”. ~ Vicki

Grief is like being burned alive. ~ Deborah

Grief is like a landmine. ~ Kevin

Grief is like waking up to a hundred pound monkey on your back. ~ April

Grief is like being in a constant nightmare. ~Kathleen

Grief is like a soaking wet wool blanket over your whole body. ~ Alice

Grief is like having an incurable affliction. ~ Allen

Grief is like being in the middle of a twister that wreaks havoc all around you. ~ Leslie

Grief is like losing a part of yourself. ~ Peter

Grief is like being continuously hit by a tsunami. ~ Teklya

Grief is like being in a chronic state of anxiety. – Frankie

Grief is like being the pinball in a game you never chose to play. ~ Miss Mac

Grief is like sitting on the sidelines. ~ Michelle

Grief is like your insides being munched away by parasites and wanting to vomit but you can’t because you’re empty. ~Kay

Grief is like a bottomless pit. ~ Tara

Grief is like a concussion that lasts for months. ~ Lillian

Grief is like a wound. Over time it heals but it leaves a scar. ~ Theresa

Grief is like waking up every day as a stranger in a foreign land. ~ Elizabeth

* Note: If we included your grief metaphor and you would like to be credited differently, please email [email protected]

Do any of these metaphors resonate with you? If not, share your metaphor in the comments section below. 


June 20, 2017

57 responses on "Grief Metaphors, Analogies, and Similes"

  1. Grief is a tsunami of panic, welling up at unpredictable intervals, stealing your breath and only leaving tears behind.

  2. Grief is 2 people dying, but one person staying behind, living like a lugubrious gray ghost and haunting their old life of colour.

  3. Grief is 2 people dying, but one person staying behind, living like a lugubrious ghost, black and white and haunting their old life of colour.

  4. Grief is like getting cut really deep, and you keep picking at the cut, and it bleeds more and more and is very slow to heal.

  5. Grief is like a dark hole that sucks you in and leaves you in a place of total darkness fighting to find your way back to the light you once knew.

  6. I wear my grief like a heavy cloth with a question written on it asking: what could I have done differently?

  7. Thank you for your creative post.For ACS RPL samples you can find us at Regarding any help including ANZSCO code and Employment reference letter for ACS RPL you can visit us.

  8. Grief is like having a very loud tv on in every room and and it’s replaying shows and moments of everything you never got to say to your loved one, everything you regret saying to them and everything you will never get to do with them. You want to shut it off or turn down the volume so you can just function but you can’t. The volume is so loud you can’t really hear when people are talking to you and sometimes you want to break the tv with a bat and sometimes you just want to sit there and watch it with undivided attention. The tv is on when you go to sleep, when you are showering, eating, working, running errands, being with friends and family. Sometimes you can ignore it successfully, but the volume is so loud and the shows are so powerful that most of the time you can’t. You get to a point where you want the reruns to stop because you’ve memorized them and you are desperate for new memories with your loved one. The old memories have replayed so many times that they start to feel fake and lose some of the emotion that they originally held for you.

  9. Grief is like being severed in half and then having people ask you “how you are doing?”

  10. Grief is like being dead but they forgot to bury you.

  11. Grief is like an old wound which no balon can heal

  12. Very useful article, I am very happy to be here. Besides adding knowledge, I can understand what this arithmetic means. Thank you in advance yahhh

  13. Grief for me is like white noise in my head, part of me trying to push the thoughts away when they start coming while the other part wanting my Dad there in my head but knowing it will be so painful I need to push it away, so ending up with a scrambled mess of white noise. And when it does come back feeling like a panic in my stomach and when the tears arrive feeling like I could lose my breath

  14. Grief is being at the bottom of a dry unused well looking up and seeing a sliver of blue and wondering how you will ever escape

  15. Grief is like a rock along the coast of an ocean and I am a wave crashing into it.

  16. Grief is being made to go on a favourite country walk down a familiar path but without colour, sound or smell. Wearing ill fitting shoes.

  17. Grief is like the movie Groundhog Day, but you never seem to learn anything….Day after day……

  18. Grief is like Jason, it never dies, it always comes back.

  19. Grief is like when people have their ups and downs because their loved ones are not there anymore

  20. Grief is like your mental health, if you don’t accept it, it will get worse.

  21. Grief is like waiting for your parent to pick you up, yesterday.

  22. Grief is the real shade of gray.

  23. Grief is being alone , stranded on a deserted island and never ever being able to fit back into normal again.

  24. Grief is like big tattoos across your forehead, your arms, and your back that say: ” Damaged by Death.” And you are tired of seeing them and wondering if those tattoos will ever fade away.

  25. Grief is different for everyone! For me its living everyday without seeing my husband smiling at me and making me feel loved beyond words. Grief for me is living with a broken heart. Grief is going to bed and aching for the person you lost. Grief is a constant reminder of what you once had and now have to learn to live without.

    • Grief may be different for everyone, but your words that describe your loss could have been written by me, because they are exactly as I am feeling.

    • I couldn’t agree with you more. My husband died a month ago and I am so lost. I keep trying to be thankful for having him for 42 years and having a husband that I knew loved me more than life itself. But I miss being told how much he loved me and how proud he was to call me his wife. I feel like half my heart is gone. How do you find a new normal when you don’t know what it looks like?

  26. Grief is like a cape made of lead. You slowly get used to the weight but you are unable to take it off. It’s hard to breathe or to laugh. Grief is like losing an arm. You learn to function without it but you are forever changed. I am the mother of a young teen boy who has been a “missing child”, a cold case, for almost 22 years. This month is his birthday. There is no answer, no grave to visit. Grief is a mountain without a peak, just a steep rocky trail that goes on and on. The perpetual climb makes you strong.

    • Bless you Suzan. Bless you today, and bless you tomorrow. Bless you all the days you walk this earthly journey.

    • I am going to pray for you every day for the rest of my life Suzan. I am so sorry you are having to suffer and can only imagine how painful not knowing where your son is must be. Only 1% of users comment so please know many others here are feeling the same way for you that I am and just aren’t saying anything.

  27. Grief is like when someone you love dies….. and he dies again every morning when you wake up… and it has been 2 and a half years of waking up this way already.b

  28. Grief is like the puzzle pieces of your life have been tossed and as you put it back together some have changed some are missing some just don’t seem to fit.

  29. Grieve is like a 10.000 piece puzzle with missing pieces, wrong pieces. And it never get,s completed.

  30. Grief is like insanity…an overwhelming sadness crushing me, driving me to brink of madness.
    Grief is like rage, its injustice makes my soul howl from the depths within me.
    Grief is like love with nowhere to go.

    • “Grief is like love, with no place to go.” Thank you Rachel. I had to think about that one for a while. I was used to loving my wife for decades, and now after her passing, I do have that same capacity to love, but nowhere to send it. Sure, I have other family and friends to love as I have always loved, but a big part of my loving another had to do with the one person I lost. So, yeah, I get it.

  31. Grief is the nightmare where you are trying to run away but you cannot move.

  32. I am respectfully asking permission to use some

  33. Grief is like trying to climb Everest
    Without the use of your limbs.

    Grief is like a song without notes,
    A world without colour.

    Grief is like wrestling with a monster
    When you’re stuck in the mud.

    Grief is like a mirror reflecting
    On dust.

  34. Grief is like a tsunami . One minute things are calm and then it crashes over you breaking your heart and soul.

  35. Grief is like waves upon the beach carrying grains of sand back to the water.

  36. Grief is like living in a horrifying parallel universe that nobody else can see.

    • Yes, Linda, I live in that parallel universe with my twin self living in the real universe. Everyone in the real universe think I am doing so well, little do they know the despair and pain I feel in my parallel universe. I don’t want to share with them and cause them pain to see how I am not really doing so well. I feel that would just compound the loss of a wife, mother, grandmother, aunt, sister, brother, etc. All want the best for me and talk about me and enjoy seeing me out and about going through the motions of a fully functioning human being. Little do they know about my parallel universe where grief, sadness, despair, fog, confusion, guilt, questioning, memory loss of details, needing forgiveness, no laughter, loneliness, and feeling just lost. Tomorrow, I will get up, dress up, show up, and carry on. Well, at least my twin self will be doing that.

  37. Grief is like living on shifting sand.

  38. Grief is like waking from a dream and realizing that the nightmare hasn’t ended

  39. Grief is like having a knife stuck in your chest but no one can see it.

    • Well, Sarah, my doctor could see it. He saw that my blood pressure was elevated. He said that when you are upset a lot, he can’t diagnose or make a medication plan. So, he knows there is a knife stuck in left side right between the ribs in that muscle that pumps every second.

  40. . Grief is like constantly choking and not being to take in a deep breath.


    • You’re right. I have questioned the value of my life now. Am I just taking up space on this little blue planet? I am sure I could get family and friends to disagree, but in my altered vision of my surroundings, I am just existing.

  42. Grief is like always in a dark lonely bottomless pit

    • And we all want to crawl out of that dark lonely pit. However, the sides are slippery, and what scares me is not being in the pit, but fear that I may never climb out. I need hope that all will be well.

  43. Grief is like being in a prison for the rest of your life. You never get away from it or escape it.

    • Lord, I want to be paroled from that prison sentence. I can stand being in this emotional prison for a while, but I want to know that somehow and someday that all will be well.

    • Thank you, this is exaclty how I feel and it’s comforting to know others feel the same way.

  44. Grief is breathing although life ended.

  45. Grief is like waking up in a parallel universe…and being unable to find your way back.

  46. Grief is like a heavy fog where you are not sure where you are stepping. Your mind is foggy and not always making sense.

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