What causes sadness?

One way of understanding sadness is to see it as our response when we experience loss. This may be the loss of someone we love, or loss of connection to someone or something important to us, or even the loss of a part of ourself or a particular identity we have held. This loss can come in many different forms, for example:

  • Loss of someone when they die

  • Loss of our connection to a particular place when we move

  • 1920119_296974713789941_337269301_nLoss of a job

  • Loss of a pet

  • The end of a relationship

  • Loss of a child when they go to school or leave home

  • Loss of a belief or a religion

  • Loss of connection with family when a young adult leaves home

  • Loss of our youth

  • Loss of status

  • Loss of identity if we get married

  • Loss of identity if our circumstances change

  • Loss of the old relationship with our partner when a baby is born

  • Loss of our health

The list is endless…..

1926895_296964867124259_481446785_nLife is constantly changing, and most change involves letting go of something. The loss of the old situation. John C. Maxwell says ‘Change is inevitable – growth is optional.’ Whether or not change leads to growth depends to a large extent on our ability to grieve, to release our sadness and free ourselves up for what is coming next. Sadness is our natural and healthy response to loss of any kind. If we don’t understand this it can sometimes be hard to understand why we’re sad, and our sadness may confuse or frighten us.

For example:

  • A man who has worked many long hours to afford a new home for himself and his young family may find himself sad when the day to move finally arrives. This confuses him. However, when he looks deep inside he realises he will miss the old neighbourhood, the friends there, the carefree nature of their life. It helps if he can realise that it’s ok, in fact it’s necessary for him to feel this sadness in order to move on and embrace the next phase of his life with an open heart.

  • A woman ends a painful, abusive relationship that she’s been longing to get out. She then finds herself grieving the loss of the very person she had longed to get away from. She needs to understand this sadness and allow herself to fully feel it if she is ever to be truly free of the relationship.

1797992_527454747368350_1360172182_n‘Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness; touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments and life itself is grace.’

~Frederick Buechner~

Sadness is our natural response to loss and change, even when it is change that we have longed for. If we don’t understand our sadness it is hard for us to manage it in the appropriate way, and we may often feel ‘silly’ if we find ourselves feeling sad on occasions where we are ‘meant’ to be feeling happy.

When working with the shadow we believe that as human beings we are ‘hard wired’ to connect. We will connect to whoever or whatever is around us – and then we will grieve for this when it is gone. If we cannot grieve in a healthy way then we will hold on to the connection in painful and damaging ‘shadow’ way, that prevents us from forming further connections. It is important that we understand and recognise our sadness if we are to work with it in an effective way that allows us to eventually move on whilst carrying with us a loving memory of that which has been lost.


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For further reading on sadness please see the following three blogs:

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