Emotion Thesaurus: Sadness/Grief

When it comes to emotion, sometimes we need a brainstorming nudge. After all, each character will express their feelings differently depending on their personality, emotional range, and comfort zone. We hope this short, sample list of expressions will help you better imagine how your character might show this emotion!

If you need to go deeper, we have detailed lists of body language, visceral sensations, dialogue cues, and mental responses for 130 emotions in the 2019 expanded second edition of The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression.


· aching, smarting eyes (redness)
· stiff eyelids
· a scratchy throat
· soreness in the throat, lungs
· hyperventilating
· difficulty responding to questions and interacting with people
· uncontrollable crying
· premature aging (wrinkles, tired eyes, gray/white hair)
· weight loss or gain
· sickness
· a desire to live in the past
· suicidal thoughts
· oversensitivity…

Win your readers’ hearts by tailoring your character’s emotional responses so they’re compelling, credible, and realistic.

If you struggle with writing emotions, you aren’t alone. The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression has helped writers all over the globe, and it can help you. To find out more about this bestselling book, please visit our bookstore.

Prefer the flexibility of instant online access and greater searchability?

The Emotion Thesaurus is also at our sister site, One Stop for Writers. Visit the Emotion Thesaurus Page to view our complete list of entries.

TIP: While you’re there, check out our hyper-intelligent Character Builder that helps you create deep, memorable characters in half the time!



Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, an online library packed with powerful tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.
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10 Responses to Emotion Thesaurus: Sadness/Grief

  1. Pingback: Resources For Describing Emotion |

  2. Auyan says:

    One thing that makes every situation worse: a headache. Especially when you’re already coping with grief. You’ve been crying, so you’re dehydrated, and you have a splitting headache and are too out of it to figure out why.

  3. Pingback: Emotion Thesaurus Entry Collection (Samples) | Writers Helping Writers

  4. Anonymous says:

    I just wanted to thank your for your awesome blog! Your thesaurus are very handy. They’ve helped me a lot writing my novel.

  5. Awesome lists of new ways to make a point. We often reuse the some ones over and over, getting stuck in a rut.

  6. Just came across a link to this place, and I must say it is AMAZING. I willl definitely have to remember this blog, as I am sure it will come in very handy as I work on my stories.

    Thank You!!

    – The All Real Numbers Symbol

  7. Becca says:

    Glad you find it useful, Luc!

  8. Luc2 says:

    Nice lists, again. Very useful as reference.

    Thank you.

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