Sorrow…grief’s persistent, exhausting emotion

Posted on October 7, 2021 by Rev. Pam Reidy under grief, loss, mourning
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Sorrow is a bulky, brawny kind of guy. Most people avoid him because when he is around he wields a lot of power. He’s so heavy, just being near him weighs you down. He can easily smother you and you will find yourself gasping for air. Sorrow’s best friend is Tears. She has a reputation for being unpopular, but actually Tears has been particularly good for Sorrow. They make great companions.
Sorrow visits everyone, from their earliest childhood days to their deathbed. Surely one of life’s great challenges is to learn Sorrow’s lessons. Sorrow is like a chameleon, appearing as sadness, regret or penitence. Whether heartbroken or guilt-ridden, sorrow is born from sensitivity and feeds off the anguish in a heart.
When people die, everyone invokes him, saying things like, “I am so sorry for your loss.” Sorrow doesn’t really like this. He prefers people acknowledge him directly and say something like, “I know you are in pain” or “I care for you.”  Sorrow has been around forever and has entered hearts so many times, he deserves more respect than he gets.


Sorrow, also known as sadness, is one of grief’s persistent and exhausting emotions. It originates deep in the soul, bringing to the surface psychological, emotional and physical reminders of our loss. Having encountered loss and disappointment during our lives, we have usually developed successful coping skills. Nevertheless, sadness during grief, can feel quite different, because it is linked to the death of a person. The more intimate our relationship with the deceased, the more acute and painful the emotion. Sadness borne of deep grief is complex and does not subside easily.

Another truth about sorrow is its capacity to self-multiply.  Once we start expressing sadness, we tend to lament things unrelated to our current loss. When grieving, we can easily end up crying for every sad thing that ever happened to us.

Sorrow exposes our loss; ignoring it can cause physical illness. A persistent symptom can be the body’s way of urging us to address our sadness. Sadness should not be judged, evaluated, minimized or exaggerated.

Circumventing sadness gives it more power. Expressing sorrow in a purposeful way is good, for example crying is a physical release that readjusts our emotions. Another favorite antidote for sadness is physical activity, which is a natural mood booster. Exercise releases endorphins that interact with the receptors in the brain to reduce the perception of pain. Endorphins trigger a positive feeling in the body similar to that of morphine.

Whatever you do to alleviate persistent sadness, remember that grief is not on a timeline, it is personal and individual, and no one can escape sadness when grieving the loss of someone they have loved.


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