Column: Sadness to solace

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 18, 2002

In my last column we began discussing how to deal with one of life’s most disturbing emotions &045; sadness.

As with many feelings, processing our pain can be easier when we have support.

I encouraged you to identify a support person &045; a friend, a family member, a counselor, even the caring part of yourself that you can use to support you through your challenge.

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This can be helpful because sometimes if feels like our pain is too much to bear.

Once we have this support, it is easier to move ahead with the healing process.

Remember that sadness flows like water through a pipe.

If we let it flow on through, it will be gone.

If we block it, it gets stuck.

We prolong our sadness by trying not to feel it.

When we embrace grief, though, we discover it will not overcome us, that we will live through it, that it does pass.

Despite its discomfort, it is just a feeling.

A heart breaking, awful, gut-wrenching feeling, perhaps, but none-the-less, just a feeling.

We are bigger than our sadness.

I have heard many people say they are afraid if they start crying, they will never stop.

This fear, however, is unfounded.

The longest we are likely to cry in any one episode is 20-30 minutes.

Then our body gets tired and shuts down on its own.

We may need to return to continue grieving later, but the body itself has a built-in circuit breaker to give us a rest when needed.

Have you noticed what relief there is when you finish crying about something?

This is the reward for the courage to face this pain, little or large.

You will win.

You will feel better.

And you will have earned it because of your willingness to go into the pit of darkness.

Periods of expressing grief often require a ‘recovery’ period, a time to be alone, to sleep, to nurture one’s self.

Be sure you build this into your grieving regime.

Sometimes, even with a lot of crying, our sadness remains.

Usually this is because there is an element of effective crying that is missing, like not crying deeply from the gut, not crying loud enough, or crying alone.

Sometimes we need to learn how to cry effectively.

Seek out professional support if this is the case for you.

As a colleague of mine once said, &uot;There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and the light is not a train&uot;.

What sadness are you ready to let go of?

It’s tough, I know.

Is now the time for you?

There is light at the end of your tunnel too.

The walk through the tunnel may be dark, but at the other end, the relief is certain.

David Larson, M.S., is a licensed psychologist and personal coach at the Wellness Institute.

His website is