We all have experienced sadness at one time or another. It is usually connected with a loss in our lives. It can grow out of the death of a parent, a spouse, a friend, or an animal companion. It accompanies the heartbreak that comes with the end of a love relationship, being fired of forced into retirement, being the victim of a natural catastrophe, or experiencing a health crisis.
In The Book of Awakening, Mark Nepo writes of a Tibetan myth that enables people to welcome and embrace sadness as a catalyst to all that is life-changing and transformative. Spiritual warriors must have a broken heart because "it is only through the break that the wonder and mysteries of life can enter us." The same idea is echoed in a saying by Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzke, quoted in Estelle Frankel's Sacred Therapy: "Nothing is more whole than a broken heart."
These days, with pandemics, wars, famine, terrorist attacks, and the fallout from climate change, many people carry around with them a deep sadness about the chaos, insecurity, and out-of-control nature of our times. And, last but not least are the losses that emanate from our separate selves — loneliness, feelings of being abandoned, lack of friends, and the diminishment of community.
Sadness is emotional pain that can pass through our days as swiftly as a wayward wind or it can roost in our body and soul for a long and nightmarish visit. In some cases, morbid sadness can lead to depression which is a much darker and dreadful place. That is why there is no one-size-fits-all plan for working with sadness. For this topic, we have gathered together a wide variety of books, book excerpts, teaching stories, blog posts, quotes, poetry, and spiritual practices to help you endure and even thrive through sadness.