“Sorrow comes to all… Perfect reality is not possible, except with time. You cannot now realize that you will ever feel better and yet you are sure to be happy again.” – Abraham Lincoln

Sorrow is the opposite of happiness, yet both are part of human existence.

Like life and death and the changing of seasons, it should be familiar enough to recognize that things have a sequence. Sometimes that sequence is a time of birth or rebirth, a creative force that erases failure and negativity. Other times, however, there’s a clearly defined sense of decay, lack of progress, mistakes and endings.

The key to overcoming sorrow and sadness is to remember that you will get past it in time — even though you can’t possibly see how at the present.

An adage says that time heals all wounds. This includes the wounds and pain of sorrow. While you might think, and feel like you’re experiencing a broken heart, perhaps from the break-up of a relationship, the death of a loved one or the distancing of friends, this is but a temporary emotional distress.

It won’t last forever – not unless you become clinically depressed, in which case you need help from a medical professional, such as a psychiatrist, who can prescribe medications to ease depression, and begin psychotherapy to assist you in better coping with clinical depression.

Telling someone – even yourself – that you’ll get over this doesn’t really help the situation. And we’ve probably all been there, finding little comfort after pouring out our hearts to a friend, loved one, even a neighbor. For one thing, it does nothing to ease the pain. And that’s what you’re primarily interested in. You want a quick fix or an easy remedy to use to get past this dreadful feeling.

Sorry, it doesn’t work that way. The best that you can do is to acknowledge what you’re feeling, rather than trying so hard to bury it. By stuffing your emotions down, you’re setting yourself up for them to resurface later, perhaps in a more self-destructive and debilitating manner.

Symptoms of sorrow

It’s important to learn to recognize the symptoms of sorrow, some of which may be cloaked beneath other emotions.

Signs of sorrow include:

  • Sadness
  • Tearfulness
  • A sense of emptiness
  • Angry outbursts
  • Hopelessness
  • Frustration
  • Irritability

Common depression symptoms, however, go beyond those of sadness or sorrow and can include:

  • A depressed mood that doesn’t go away
  • Loss of interest in pleasures or activities once enjoyed
  • Significant weight loss, when not trying to lose weight or on a diet
  • Inability to sleep, or sleeping excessively
  • Loss of energy or fatigue
  • Feeling worthless, or inappropriate or excessively guilty
  • Problems with thinking and concentrating, difficulty making decisions
  • Engaging in thoughts of suicide without having a plan, or making a specific plan to commit suicide, attempts at suicide

How to get on the healing path

What if you’re unable to get past your sorrow, or find that it inexplicably comes and goes, laying waste to your plans and creating havoc in your life? What most of us who are in the grip of sorrow fail to recognize is that there is no absolute timetable for healing. Everyone heals at their own pace. You simply must give yourself time to heal, however long that takes.

Experts recommend that you be with supportive loved ones, family members and friends but don’t wallow in self-pity. It’s also wise to avoid drinking to excess to try to numb yourself. That will only bring about a hangover or some other potentially negative consequences.

Also, you must be good to yourself. What does this include? Do things that bring you some measure of peace, whether that’s getting more sleep, eating healthier foods, embarking on a hobby, going away for the weekend, joining a group or learning how to meditate. Good self-care will help you prepare your body and your mind as you begin your healing journey to overcome sadness.

Above all, remember that you deserve to be happy. While it may be tough to allow this thought to permeate your consciousness when you’re feeling blue, you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to repeat it over and over to yourself until you do believe it. Tell yourself, “I deserve to be happy.” And you will be happy again. It just takes time.