A sad man plays a piano wreathed in flowers.
A sad man plays a piano wreathed in flowers.
A sad man plays a piano wreathed in flowers.

77 Quotes to Help You Better Understand and Cope with Sadness

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Sadness is one of the most fundamental of human emotions, and yet it remains among the least understood. We feel sadness nearly as often as happiness, yet we struggle to make sense of the former while we have an almost inexhaustible wealth of lore and literature that exalt the latter. Most cultures regard sadness with little value, dismissing it as a negative sentiment that must at all costs be rejected with disdain and contempt. We are taught to conceal every manifestation of it, and any discussion of it is considered unpleasant and thus unwelcome.

But sadness should neither be feared nor misconstrued. Instead, it should be examined, explored, and embraced as a natural, vital, and inevitable part of being human. Certainly sadness is almost always never a desirable feeling, but it has its virtues as well. Sadness puts a new perspective into our thoughts, gives depth into our existence, and adds wisdom into our lives. It is often in our moments of sadness that we learn the lessons that would prove the most valuable during our lives. And it is from sadness that we learn patience and thoughtfulness; from it, we draw endurance and fortitude.

Throughout history, various people – famous, influential, and otherwise – have lent their insight and understanding on sadness. Here is a compilation of 77 of the most meaningful and moving quotes to help you better understand and cope with the least understood of all human emotions.

  1. “Any fool can be happy. It takes a man with real heart to make beauty out of the stuff that makes us weep.” Clive Barker 
  1. “As the light begins to intensify, so does my misery, and I wonder how it is possible to hurt so much when nothing is wrong.” Tabitha Suzuma 
  1. “Crying is cleansing. There’s a reason for tears, happiness or sadness.” Dionne Warwick
  1. “Deep down, I reckon the sweetest moment will come when it’s finally all over. When, at last, I know that I can stop fighting. Of course it’ll also be a little sad. The sweetest moments, y’know, always come with just a little sadness.” Evander Holyfield 
  1. “Don’t be ashamed to weep; ’tis right to grieve. Tears are only water, and flowers, trees, and fruit cannot grow without water. But there must be sunlight also. A wounded heart will heal in time, and when it does, the memory and love of our lost ones is sealed inside to comfort us.” Brian Jacques
  1. “Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better take things as they come along with patience and equanimity.” Carl Jung 
  1. “Even in a world with much sadness, at its essence, life is beautiful.” Dianne Reeves
  1. “Even in times of great sadness, there are always moments where we crack up.” Selenis Leyva 
  1. “Every human walks around with a certain kind of sadness. They may not wear it on their sleeves, but it’s there if you look deep.” Taraji P. Henson
  1. “Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

A sad woman lying in bed crying

  1. “Experiencing sadness and anger can make you feel more creative, and by being creative you can get beyond your pain or negativity.” Yoko Ono 
  1. “First, accept sadness. Realize that without losing, winning isn’t so great.” Alyssa Milano 
  1. “Grief is not as heavy as guilt, but it takes more away from you.” Veronica Roth 
  1.  “He awoke each morning with the desire to do right, to be a good and meaningful person, to be, as simple as it sounded and as impossible as it actually was, happy. And during the course of each day his heart would descend from his chest into his stomach. By early afternoon he was overcome by the feeling that nothing was right, or nothing was right for him, and by the desire to be alone. By evening he was fulfilled: alone in the magnitude of his grief, alone in his aimless guilt, alone even in his loneliness. I am not sad, he would repeat to himself over and over, I am not sad. As if he might one day convince himself. Or fool himself. Or convince others – the only thing worse than being sad is for others to know that you are sad. I am not sad. I am not sad. Because his life had unlimited potential for happiness, insofar as it was an empty white room. He would fall asleep with his heart at the foot of his bed, like some domesticated animal that was no part of him at all. And each morning he would wake with it again in the cupboard of his rib cage, having become a little heavier, a little weaker, but still pumping. And by the midafternoon he was again overcome with the desire to be somewhere else, someone else, someone else somewhere else. I am not sad.” Jonathan Safran Foer 
  1. “Heavy hearts, like heavy clouds in the sky, are best relieved by the letting of a little water.” Christopher Morley 
  1. “Humor without sadness underneath it feels cheap and aggressive.” John Cameron Mitchell 
  1. “I always believed that I had to pretend to be happy. But what I’ve learned is that it doesn’t matter what race or class or demographic you come from. I truly believe that sadness is relative.” Adwoa Aboah 
  1.  “I believe in the importance of individuality, but in the midst of grief I also find myself wanting connection – wanting to be reminded that the sadness I feel is not just mine but ours.” Meghan O’Rourke 
  1. “I do believe that if you haven’t learnt about sadness, you cannot appreciate happiness.” Nana Mouskouri 
  1. “I think a good dollop of sadness is quite a useful thing in comedy sometimes. I think if everyone’s happy all the time, it’s a bit dull. It’s like salt and caramel – you wouldn’t imagine they would go well together, but they do.” Olivia Colman

A tree silhouetted against the starry night sky.

  1. “I think everyone feels alone in their sadness, and there’s a certain value to hearing other people’s sad stories.” Brandon Stanton
  1. “I think that humans have a huge capacity to carry pain and sadness. There are things that haunt us our entire lives; we are unable to let them go. The good times seem almost effervescent and dreamlike in comparison with the times that didn’t go so well.” Henry Rollins 
  1. “I think things are dishonest if they’re not aware of sadness.” John Cameron Mitchell 
  1. “I want to paint something that’s gorgeous, something that’s perfect. So that it’s full of sadness.” Gary Hume 
  1. “If the spectrum linking everyday depression to Major Depression sometimes hinders understanding of it, it also offers an opportunity for empathy. Because almost everyone, at some point, experiences feelings of sadness, of hopelessness, of emptiness, not to mention lethargy and irritability.” Gayle Forman 
  1. “If you cry because the sun has gone out of your life, your tears will prevent you from seeing the stars.” Rabindranath Tagore
  1. “It’s in the darkest moments that we find our greatest strengths.” Steven Atchson
  1. “Just as you’re allowed to be angry about injustice, it’s natural to express feelings of sadness or fear, especially if you’re exhausted by the prospect of trying to keep a brave face.” Franchesca Ramsey 
  1. “Learning is a gift. Even when pain is your teacher.” Maya Watson
  1. “Music is amazing. There’s some metaphysical comfort where it allows you to be isolated and alone while telling you that you are not alone… truly, the only cure for sadness is to share it with someone else.” Wayne Coyne

A sad man wearing a hood hidden among the shadows.

  1. “Musical compositions can be very sad – Chopin – but you have the pleasure of this sadness. The cheap consolation is: you will be happy. The higher consolation is the pleasure and recognition of your unhappiness, the pleasure of having recognised that fate, destiny and life are such as they are and so you reach a higher form of consciousness.” Umberto Eco
  1. “No society has been able to abolish human sadness, no political system can deliver us from the pain of living, from our fear of death, our thirst for the absolute. It is the human condition that directs the social condition, not vice versa.” Eugene Ionesco 
  1. “Nothing thicker than a knife’s blade separates happiness from melancholy.” Virginia Woolf
  1. “Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.” Percy Bysshe Shelley 
  1. “Part of me is drawn to the nature of sadness because I think life is sad, and sadness is not something that should be avoided or denied. It’s a fact of life, like contradictions are.” Robert Redford
  1. “People cry, not because they are weak. It is because they’ve been strong for too long.” Johnny Depp
  1. “People will do anything rather than acknowledge that they are sad.” Mary Gordon
  1. “Real artists take the misery and sadness of life and translate it into art.” Josh Peck 
  1. “Sadness does not inhere in things; it does not reach us from the world and through mere contemplation of the world. It is a product of our own thought. We create it out of whole cloth.” Emilie Durkheim 
  1. “Sadness flies away on the wings of time.” Jean de La Fontaine

A quote on sadness by Maya Watson on an image of a sad woman crying

  1. “Sadness gives depth. Happiness gives height. Sadness gives roots. Happiness gives branches. Happiness is like a tree going into the sky, and sadness is like the roots going down into the womb of the earth. Both are needed, and the higher a tree goes, the deeper it goes, simultaneously. The bigger the tree, the bigger will be its roots. In fact, it is always in proportion. That’s its balance.” Osho 
  1. “Sadness is a necessary emotion. It’s maybe not the most pleasant one to have, but it’s cathartic.” Phyllis Smith 
  1. “Sadness is but a wall between two gardens.” Kahlil Gibran
  1. “So it’s true, when all is said and done, grief is the price we pay for love.” E. A. Bucchianeri 
  1. “Sometimes pain is so unmanageable that the idea of spending another day with it seems impossible. Other times pain acts as a compass to help you through the messier tunnels of growing up. But pain can only help you find happiness if you remember it.” Adam Silvera 
  1. “Tears are words that need to be written.” Paulo Coelho 
  1. “Tears are words the mouth can’t say nor can the heart bear.” Joshua Wisenbaker 
  1. “Tears come from the heart and not from the brain.” Leonardo da Vinci 
  1. “Tears shed for another person are not a sign of weakness. They are a sign of a pure heart.” Jose N. Harris
  1. “The best jokes resonate because they uncover ridiculousness in our daily lives, reveal the silliness – and sometimes sadness – of things we see every day.” Rachel Sklar

A man plays a piano wreathed with flowers

  1. “The goal of a life free of dysphoria is a snare and a delusion. A better goal is of good commerce with the world. Authentic happiness, astonishingly, can occur even in the presence of authentic sadness.” Martin Seligman 
  1. “The heart was made to be broken.” Oscar Wilde
  1. “The largest part of what we call ‘personality’ is determined by how we’ve opted to defend ourselves against anxiety and sadness.” Alain de Botton 
  1. “The longer and more carefully we look at a funny story, the sadder it becomes.” Nikolai Gogol
  1. “The reason for the sadness of this modern age and the men who live in it is that it looks for the truth in everything and finds it.” Edmond de Goncourt 
  1. “The walls we build around us to keep sadness out also keeps out the joy.” Jim Rohn 
  1. “The way sadness works is one of the strange riddles of the world. If you are stricken with a great sadness, you may feel as if you have been set aflame, not only because of the enormous pain but also because your sadness may spread over your life, like smoke from an enormous fire.” Lemony Snicket 
  1. “The worst type of crying wasn’t the kind everyone could see – the wailing on street corners, the tearing at clothes. No, the worst kind happened when your soul wept and no matter what you did, there was no way to comfort it.” Katie McGarry 
  1. “There are moments when I wish I could roll back the clock and take all the sadness away, but I have the feeling that if I did, the joy would be gone as well.” Nicholas Sparks 
  1. “There are two types of people in the world: those who prefer to be sad among others, and those who prefer to be sad alone.” Nicole Krauss

A sad woman crying while her hand is pressed up against the glass pane

  1. “There is a crisis that is not political – an epidemic of loneliness, of sadness – and we’re completely unequal to dealing with it.” Richard Flanagan 
  1. “There’s a sadness to the human condition that I think music is good for. It gives a counterpoint to the visual beauty, and adds depth to pictures that they wouldn’t have if the music wasn’t there.” Mike Figgis 
  1. “There is no point treating a depressed person as though she were just feeling sad, saying, ‘There now, hang on, you’ll get over it.’ Sadness is more or less like a head cold – with patience, it passes. Depression is like cancer.” Barbara Kingsolver 
  1. “There is no greater sorrow than to recall in misery the time when we were happy.” Dante Alighieri 
  1. “There is nothing so cleansing or reassuring as a vicarious sadness.” David Rakoff 
  1. “There is some kind of a sweet innocence in being human – in not having to be just happy or just sad – in the nature of being able to be both broken and whole, at the same time.” C. Joybell 
  1. “There was a sadness over me, a melancholy. That’s always been a part of me – those are some of the things that lead you to the arts.” Mahershala Ali 
  1. “They say it’s better to bury your sadness in a graveyard or garden that waits for the spring to wake from its sleep and burst into green.” Conor Oberst
  1. “We all have sadness in our life and things that we can draw upon.” Sherilyn Fenn 
  1. “We’re taught to be ashamed of confusion, anger, fear and sadness, and to me they’re of equal value to happiness, excitement and inspiration.” Alanis Morissette

A woman wearing a veil mourns in sadness

  1. “We must understand that sadness is an ocean, and sometimes we drown, while other days we are forced to swim.” R. M. Drake
  1. “We never taste a perfect joy; our happiest successes are mixed with sadness.” Pierre Corneille
  1. “When grief is deepest, words are fewest.” Ann Voskamp
  1. “When you talk, you realize that the pains and worries you feel are universal; you no longer feel alone in your sadness. You relate and find comfort in the fact that there are other women going through the same things as you are.” Adwoa Aboah
  1. “With sadness specifically, in America you read about people medicating to avoid sadness. They don’t want to experience sadness, and yet it’s such a vital part of being human.” Pete Docter
  1. “You cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness.” Jonathan Safran Foer
  1. “You never have a comedian who hasn’t got a very deep strain of sadness within him or her. Every great clown has been very near to tragedy.” Margaret Rutherford

A man in sadness leans against a wall beneath a streetlight

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