Grief and sadness: how to deal with them?

Emotions throughout history have been relegated to the background with respect to reason, without being considered sources of knowledge or usefulness for the human being.

The truth is emotions provide us with very valuable information for our own survival and self-knowledge, so we can say that they are generators of wisdom.

Sadness has been classified as one of the negative emotions from the cognitive-behavioral approach and positive psychology, along with disgust, fear or anger. Contextual therapies avoid making this classification of negative or positive emotions because they can condemn us to their avoidance and generate additional problems.

In this way, it is understood that all emotions have an adaptive function to the situation or experience that triggers them and their avoidance, non-identification or denial is what can generate maladaptive responses.

Do you feel discomfort and anguish when you are sad?

If the answer is yes, you are experiencing something expected and normal in a painful situation, period or experience. Sadness accounts for the change, a loss, a grief that does not have to be solely the death of a loved one.

There are many types of duels, such as the feeling of loss or emptiness when a couple breaks up, the change of city or country, change of job or distancing with a close person or friend among many other things.

Sadness is not positive or negative, it is there to give us information about the loss and the need to feel it and go through it so that we can say goodbye, restructure and relocate later.

There are times when we feel sad for no apparent reason; In this case, it may be that there is another unidentified emotion or that we have learned to avoid and, failing that, we feel sadness; then we will have to find out the underlying emotion to see what information it gives us and what we can do with it.

As western society we have learned to avoid and reject pain and sadness. From the first stages of our life, the messages we hear from our referents and close figures contribute to the internalization of the avoidance and rejection of sadness. This is what Soriano & Salas (2006) point out when they affirm that the instructions shared innocently since childhood are “formulas for living” that we internalize as commands of the type “no to pain, anguish, no nostalgia and sad memories among others… ”that lead us to avoid pain when it appears.

These formulas instead push us to the search for immediate pleasure, reinforcing the misconception that sadness and emotional distress should be avoided at all costs, a conception that contributes to the pathologization of sadness when it should not be like that, being one of the basic emotions that are in every human being having an adaptive function for it.

What do we do with sadness?

After reading and roughly understanding the role of sadness, each person can decide what they want to do with it.

We know the usefulness and liberation we feel when sharing sadness with close people and support networks, as well as being willing or willing to go through it. It is essential to understand the importance of how unprecedented or closed duels affect today and their relationship with our state of mind, way of relating them to others, motivation, communication … Work and therapeutic accompaniment are of great importance in the processes of change and lossYou can rely on the help of one or a professional if you think it is necessary.

Bibliographic references:

  • Neimeyer, RA; Ramírez, YG (2002). Learning from Loss: A Guide to Coping with Grief. Barcelona: Paidós.
  • Benasayag, M. & Schmit, G. (2010). Sad passions: psychic suffering and social crisis. Argentina: XXI century.
  • Soriano, MCL, & Salas, MSV (2006). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). Fundamentals, characteristics and evidence. Papers of the psychologist, 27 (2): pp. 79-91.

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