25+ Sad Stories That Will Break Your Heart (And Make You Think About Life)

Sad stories will make you cry, but they will also make you contemplate life in a way that can be very rewarding. A strong sad story will make you feel less alone—more aware of the fact that no one’s experience of this world is all rainbows and unicorns. We all have to trudge through the darker aspects of existence. Read these sad stories because they’re beautiful, and because they reflect real life.

18 Two-Sentence Sad Stories From Reddit

Language is a wonderful medium. In just two carefully crafted sentences, you can tug at a person’s heart strings. Make them think. Move them deeply. In the below sad stories, so much emotion is conveyed with so few words. Brace yourself and read on—if you have the strength.


I found the love of my life.
She didn’t.


He promised he would wait for her forever.
She kept him to his word.


It was a lot.
It just wasn’t enough.


He woke up, rolled over, and reached for her.
She wasn’t there, and never would be again.


They told me they could save either my wife or my son.
They were wrong.


After months of waiting he finally saw his wife.
He’d never been happier but he knew he’d have to wake up soon.


He never wanted to leave his wife.
But it was getting late and the graveyard gates were about to be closed.


My owner won’t wake up.
My food bowl has been empty for so long.


I pick up your little collar and leash, and I almost expect you to come running at the sound.I will never get used to the awful silence.


I rock my baby in my arms and sing softly to her.
It helps me pretend she is only sleeping.


I had carried her to the hospital, half conscious and overdosed, but alive.
I was the only one who waited with her for her recovery, and every day she would reiterate how much she loathed me for it.


I became an EMT to save people’s lives.
Twenty minutes of CPR on my dad proved that was a lie.


The heart monitor chimed its final tune.
Come the end there was no applause.


I told her she would be okay.
That was the first lie I ever told.


“He’s not coming, is he?” I asked, squeezing my mother’s hand, the multi-colored party hat on my head slipping down.
My mother squeezed back, and without a word walked back inside the house.


9 months of excitement came to an end.
She never cried.


I kept the ultrasound.
Someone I never met.


Mommy promised her the monsters weren’t real.
But mommy didn’t know that daddy was the monster.

10 Tragic Love Stories From Literature That Will Break Your Heart

But V-Day’s contemporary style is as far removed from its origins as your family’s Thanksgiving dinner is from your syphilis-sharing Pilgrim predecessors. Valentine’s Day is rooted in violence and loss. Brutality. Death. The punishment of the innocent. V-Day’s always had love notes and flowers. It’s just that they were written moments before slaughter and placed carefully next to a cracked skull and a fresh grave.

So in the true spirit of Valentine’s Day, here are 10 Tragic Love Stories that Will Break Your Heart. Because as St. Valentine knew better than anyone, the best romances don’t end happily, and the greatest love stories are tragedies above all.

1. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Yes, it’s creepy. But it’s also a tragic love story. Perhaps one of the greatest ever written. A pedophiliac road trip that turns into a suburban farce, it features an entirely unreliable, endlessly nauseating, yet inexplicably compelling narrator–a middle-aged lit professor in love with a 12 year old girl. After causing the death of her mother, then driving her across an American wilderness, Humbert Humbert is part Walter White, part Kevin Spacey in American Beauty. And he’s Nabokov’s most magical accomplishment: an at-once pathetic, frustratingly endearing, unquestionably disgusting figure. His final act–to kill a man who has taken advantage of his now-grown Lolita–is both satisfying and ironic. The story ends as you’d imagine: in complete ruination of everyone involved.

2. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Skip the movie–despite Carrie Mulligan and Kiera Knightley.  Read the book. Ishiguro’s sleight of hand will astonish you, and 100 pages in you’ll feel your stomach drop. Then you’ll fly to the end. Teenagers in England, growing up as friends in a strange kind of boarding school, are forced to confront the meaning of their short lives and imagine the possibility that love and friendship can make their years mean more than their commodotized bodies. This novel will crush you. And the pleasure of that pain will make you want to read it again.

3. Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin

I read Giovanni’s Room for a literature class in college. It is the one novel that has stayed with me after all these years (there is no shortage of good quotes). No one gets closer to the essence of human emotion than Baldwin does—he claws at it, pokes and prods at it, fully exposes it. He understands pain, forces his reader to feel every last ounce of it along with the characters. It’s an intense, fearless love story involving three different people. You’ll fall in love with all of them.

4. The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

Astonishingly contemporary for a book written 110 years ago, Wharton’s breakout novel features a young, hot Lily Bart, who might as well be a millennial in modern-day midtown Manhattan. Caught in a sticky social web of wealth and infidelity, Lily clumsily traverses a world of elite parties and stock market gamesmanship, engaging in an endless series of missed connections with the man she’s meant to be with. Scandals in New York lead to scandals in Europe. Millions are lost and gained. Yacht trips are taken. This is Gatsby before F Scott. The moral vacuum of the Manhattanite elite before Wolfe was born to write it. Eventually Lilly has her moral awakening. And the man of her dreams realizes he loves her as she him. But in a master-stroke of love eternally unrequited, he arrives to tell her so mere hours after she has expired from an overdose of sleeping pills. Ouch.

5. This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz

This novel, like Drown and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, features our favorite reckless bad boy, Yunior. While Diaz’s two other novels focus mainly on Yunior’s childhood and formidable years, in This is How You Lose Her, we zoom in on his tumultuous and confused love life. It’s a side of Diaz that isn’t quite exposed in his other books—we are witness to a different type of hurt, caused by Yunior’s careless/selfish decisions in his encounters with various women.  My favorite line: “And that’s when I know it’s over. As soon as you start thinking about the beginning, it’s the end.”

6. The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

If you haven’t yet read or seen the movie, I suggest you do, either by yourself or with a loved one—it’s by far, Nicholas Sparks’ best novel. It’s a story filled with love and loss, and finding love again, and with characters that you find yourself becoming so completely attached to that you refuse to accept anything but a happy ending. You’ll cry—a lot. So keep that pile of tissues close.

7. The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud

This is a book in which nothing happens. And that’s why it’s magic. For anyone who has ever felt like they are living on “the treadmill of the ordinary” in “a cage built of convention and consumerism and obligation and fear,” this book gives you a mirror. A broken woman, lost in her regrets and addicted to replaying the inequities of the past, offers a picture of the invisible, inconsequential person we all fear we’ll become. Reading it forces you to climb deep inside the castle of your own insecurities. Close it and you come back out again, broken and motivated, eyes open to the small tragedies of the lives that stride past you on the snowy sidewalk.

8. The Wings of the Dove by Henry James

If you thought House of Mirth harnessed melodrama to drive a dagger through your heart, just wait until Henry James introduces you to Milly Theale. Pristine in every way, wealthy beyond belief, Milly’s flaws number only one: she is dying. Tragic news on its own terms, but more tragic still when the news reaches Densher, the handsome Londoner that Milly has fallen in love with. But Densher, lacking in money or social standing, is in love with Kate, who is no better off than he. You can guess the plan: Densher will trick Milly into thinking he loves her. They’ll marry. She’ll die. And Voila! Densher will inherit her cash and then he’ll marry Kate. Happily ever after. The brilliant plan failed to account for one detail: Milly’s unshakeable kindness, her unflappable spirit. As the con plays out, Densher is won over by the dying woman’s moral brilliance, and after her death he presents Kate with a terrible choice: turn down all the money and marry him, or take all the money and lose him. Few novels ask the reader more directly to imagine which they’d choose: money or love.

9. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

I know, The Bell Jar isn’t your typical lovey-dovey, romance novel–it’s way beyond that. This novel is the closest we’ll ever get to the true Sylvia Plath. But more than that, it’s a twisted coming of age story of a young girl trying to chase her dreams in the city known for its glamour, wealth, and fame. I view it as being about the importance of learning to love yourself, and I don’t think Sylvia Plath’s Esther Greenwood ever had that chance. Instead, she was locked away in a psych ward, essentially pushed into her insanity.

10. Under the Jeweled Sky by Alison McQueen

I had the privilege of reading Under the Jeweled Sky while it was still in draft form, and I hadn’t read such a brilliant and beautiful, emotionally-charged love story in so long. I followed the main character Sophie from her gardens in India to the gloom of London, and back again. It’s a deep exploration into forbidden love, scandal, and leaving a beloved and magical place behind. You’ll be teary-eyed at the end but you’ll have become attached to Sophie, and you’ll be better for it.

Meta Bonus: 14 Thought Catalog Articles That Will Make You Cry

Over the years, life will give you many reasons to just sit around and do some soul searching, quiet reflection, read a little, and maybe get a little emotional and let it all out. Words are powerful, and they can help us heal broken hearts and broken spirits. Here are some of the best Thought Catalog articles for a good cry. 

1. How To Emotionally Detach Yourself From The Person You Love — Koty Neelis

“So you’ll end it because you know it’s for the best, it’s the right thing to do. You’ll separate your things into his and her boxes and silently wonder how you’re ever going to feel whole again. You’ll convince yourself you two will stay friends while secretly knowing you’re simply lying to yourself to pass the time.”

2. 38 Gut-Wrenching Photos That Will Leave You Speechless  — Erin Cosetta

“‘If it makes you laugh, if it makes you cry, if it rips out your heart, that’s a good picture’ -Eddie Adams (a Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist)”

3. What It Feels Like To Be In Love When You Don’t Believe You Are Worth Loving — Jamie Varon

“You will study your face in the mirror and you will replay conversations in your mind and you will try to find the thing that makes them love you. You will doubt their love so completely and so arduously that they will tire of your doubts and your jealousy. You will not blame them. You will be the first to call off the relationship. You will feel sad but also relieved each time you two break up because, at least now you don’t have to hold out some false belief that you’re worth loving.”

4. What It’s Like To Grow Up With An Autistic Sibling — Crissy Milazzo

“When you grow up with an autistic sibling, you learn patience, with strangers, your parents, and the world at large. You hold your sibling when they cry, or you try to. You learn not to cry when they pull your hair on a long car ride. You stop comparing yourself to them.”

5. Ode To Bucky Goad  — Jim Goad

“Johnny says that with the way Bucky was treated, it’s a miracle he never became a serial killer. But he says Bucky never acted bitter, mean, or violent. Time and time again after being tricked, robbed, shit on, and abused, he merely dusted himself off and came back naively seeking kindness.”

6. What It Means To Date A Girl Without A Father — Ari Eastman

“She will shy away from discussing problems. She tiptoes when you wish she would just walk. You don’t understand how someone so feisty, so full of opinions and fire, can go mute when confrontation approaches. She is flight when you would have been sure she’d fight. You get too close, things get too real, and she runs. She has tennis shoes on stand by.”

7. Deprived Of Romantic Love — Kovie Biakolo

“No, this sadness would be for desperate people. No, you’re supposed to put a smile on your face and tell everyone that every single day is such a beautiful, wonderful day to fall in love with yourself. Even on the days you feel numb inside from the performance of it all. You don’t want to perform – you just want to cry and be intoxicated with feeling empty but full, intense yet devoid of anything real; that cliché of feeling everything and then nothing all at once. And then maybe cry some more.”

8. One Sentence Love Story — Nick Cox

“Sometimes when you think you love something what you really love is not the thing itself but just some small and inessential part of it: you think you love banana splits but really you just love the maraschino cherry on top and you think you love autumn but really you just love getting a Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks and you think you love Shrek but really you just love that montage near the end after Shrek and Fiona have their falling out when he’s sitting in his swamp all alone and she’s getting ready for her wedding and Rufus Wainwright’s cover of “Hallelujah” is playing in the background,”

9. Reflections On Seeing My Ex-Lover’s Novel For Sale At The Mall — Oliver MIller

“I experienced all the expected thoughts of failure and jealousy. My cheap new shirt was still in my backpack; suddenly it seemed very cheap and very new. I thought about my ex-lover, who now had a movie coming out. She did not have to live in a house with a bunch of alcoholics; she had met famous actors and did not have to buy cheap shirts.”

10. Long-Distance Relationships Mean Always Getting to Say Hello — Ted Pillow

“She’s much braver than me, at a new school in a new state, making new friends, away from her family and her home. How does she do it? I get anxious when it’s time to change the clocks forward an hour for daylight saving time – I could never make it.”

11. Why Do I Hate My Body? — Jamie Varon

“To be hot is to be everything. To be hot is to be afforded the luxury of having not be anything else. Female hotness is the ultimate aspiration. And. I. hate. it. Maybe I would hate it less if I were hot, if I was profiting off the system, the game. But, you know, I think I could be hot. I could devote my life to being hot. There are means. There are ways.”

12. A Letter To My Dead Father — Ari Eastman

“I closed my eyes, tried to quiet the rest of the world. I took a deep breath. I saw your smile. The gap in between your two front teeth, just like mine. The reason I won’t allow the cosmetic surgeon to touch it. This imperfection in my smile that reminds me of you. But I couldn’t hear your laugh. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t hear it, Dad. I tried, I really did. I feel like it’s not so much to ask that I just hear it once more. Just once.”

13. The One Who Cares Less — Kovie Biakolo

“What people don’t seem to realize about the person who cares less or acts like they care less is that they’re usually the one who ends up being hurt the most. It is human to want love and to want to be taken care of and to want to take care of someone else. To deny that, is simply to deny one’s humanity.”

14. The Soulmate You Deserve  — Cody Gohl

“For him, you will be the light at the end of the tunnel, the halo of glowing yellow that he has been waiting for. Never forget that you are someone worth steering for, someone worth the swift kick in the opposite direction worth all of the trials and checklists and almostrights because you are a mountaintop, the crush of violet on skin from a rainbow that seems so close to the earth that it must be real.” Thought Catalog Logo Mark

January Nelson is a writer, editor, and dreamer. She writes about astrology, games, love, relationships, and entertainment. January graduated with an English and Literature degree from Columbia University.