The Importance of Being Sad
Like anyone else, I avoid pain whenever I can. Physical pain certainly, but emotional pain even more. Because it's my experience that acknowledging emotional pain opens a door to freefall depression. Much much harder to get that door closed, if you open yourself to feeling in the first place.
In my life, I have associated the worst emotional pain with abandonment or betrayal.
Someone who you believed cared for you, who you counted upon to be there for you, turns out not to be. They didn't care enough, or their care was of poor or careless quality ("care less" quality). Many times the other individual is oblivious to your need of them and really didn't mean to hurt you. They hurt you by accident.
Worse is when an individual is truly conscious of your need of them, and absent themselves. They can't bear the weight of your need, or they have done their cost/benefit analysis, and the emotional expense is too high for anticipated gain. Or there is some kind of conflict between their own needs, one need has to be sacrificed and that's you.
These are fairly dispassionate descriptions of what Marge Piercy, the poet, described of falling out of love: "costing a pint of blood turned gray."
But sadness associated with loss of a love isn't dispassion. It is the most bare-skinned vulnerability to pain. It is acknowledgement of having needed, and of losing what one needed.
Need. Loss. Pain.
Most of us spend a lot of emotional energy edging away from, and denying, need, loss, pain.
I think Americans are peculiarly into denial of these naked emotions ... they're seen as weak, and those who admit to them are not demonstrating the characteristics of self-sustenance and independence that are most respected in our society. We value emotional numbness in our country; it helps us maintain in the face of the constant pressure that's a way of life for most of us.
But being numb isn't living. If you want to truly live, you need to feel what it is to live. And all the need, loss and pain associated with it.
So, honor sadness. Endure it. Go against the grain, open yourself up to feeling what you feel. Respect it for the symptom of being alive that it is.