Why We Need Sadness

I cried a fountain while watching Inside Out. I know it’s an animated kids movie, but for me, it was more of a tear jerker than The Notebook and Titanic put together.

The movie is a surprisingly profound look at loss and the ways loss changes us. (Tears-wise, it was reminiscent of the opening sequence of Up. These are both perfect movies to watch if you’re looking for an excuse to cry, by the way.)

Inside Out wasn’t just cute and creative. It was insightful. I walked away from the movie with distinct clarity about one simple truth: We need sadness.


When disappointment, loss, and change come, it is so easy to withdraw into yourself. To isolate yourself. My first reaction is often anger or resentment. Sometimes I’m willing to admit that I’m afraid. The last emotion I usually let myself feel is sad. The deeper the sadness, the less willing I am to face it.

But only when I give in to sadness does healing come.

I cracked up at the character Sadness many times during this movie––because Sadness can be such an exaggerator. (“I always make things worse!” *weeping on a floating rain cloud*) When chastised, Sadness never becomes defensive. (“Sorry…I don’t know why I keep doing that…”) When confronted, Sadness is always honest. (“I don’t think that’s really going to work…”) Sadness never asserts herself or argues for her way. But in the end, she is the one who saves the day.

She is empathy, mourning, vulnerability. She is what allows us to connect to others and to connect to our own selves. While other emotions mask, cover, and distract, Sadness cuts straight to the heart.



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Elizabeth is a teacher, preacher, musician, and writer. She has a Master's of Divinity and a Master's of Music, which represent her two great loves: Jesus and the arts. A half-Korean, half-white American, she spent seven years in South Korea teaching English. Elizabeth is a perpetual learner, a deep feeler, and a pursuer of beauty and truth.

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