A Positive Note About Sadness

Being sad is good for you. Let yourself be sad and your body will thank you. We’ve all heard that staying busy is the trick to keeping sadness at bay. I say be still. When you’re sad your heart hurts, and it needs your attention. You can’t mend it with a trip to the hardware store or a heavy-duty house cleaning.

If you can be still when you’re sad, wonderful things will happen. Like gently pulling slip knots from a rope, the sadness will fall away in waves. Your back and stomach will stop being the barometers of your pain. Best of all, you will find goodness and peace that you can see and touch because you are still.

My mom is fiercely in my heart still, and she died 35 years ago. I feel freakish when I think about how much I miss her. It seems like I have too many feelings. Recently, I began to let myself cry. When I finish, I can smile a little, remembering something outlandish she did or how extraordinarily generous she was. I might think about my mom’s affinity for wigs, fake nails, high heels and short skirts, all of which were so embarrassing when I was a child. They make me happy now. Remembering my mom and accepting my sadness, I feel safe again.

I am not going to be less sad about my mom because I change my diet or exercise more. I am infinitely less sad in my bones when I cry at a stop light or in the corner of our den. When I remind myself that it’s OK to cry, I feel relieved.

Acting happy when you are sad, especially when you are sad a lot, is tiring and lonely work. And it’s so ironic. To be sad is to be strong. To be sad is to say it’s OK to be you in this world. Leave the stiff upper lip for Botox.