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Inside Out

The movie Inside Out has five animated characters as the main characters. They are the basic emotions – Disgust, Fear, Anger, Sadness, and Joy. The main character is Joy, she runs the show about a 12-year-old girls emotion. Inside Out starts with Joy in charge, trying hard to keep the girl, named Riley, happy all the time. Throughout the movie the other emotions surface, but Joy tries to knock them down, not letting them in. When Riley’s family moves she experiences sadness. Joy finally realizes (through the course of many antics) that sadness is also important to Riley being happy. When she allows Riley to feel sadness, Riley grows emotionally, and what ultimately comes is more happiness.

How we as a society and as individuals deal with grief is a lot like that, too. We try so hard to “cheer them up” and get the person who has lost a loved one back to their happy state, we don’t help them or allow them to be sad.  Losing someone we love is sad, and each of us has to take the time needed to work through that feeling of sadness, to sit with it for a while, to allow it to help us to grow. Sadness can make us appreciate the person we lost, remember them, decide to be like them (or be the opposite of them), all these are things that help us grow.

In my life, I have been more like Joy than any of the other emotions in Inside Out.  At my husband, Bill and my 40th Wedding Anniversary party our son, Ab, did a beautiful toast where he compared me to the character Joy in Inside Out. He toasted, “My mom is so like Joy, always looking for the positive.” I hadn’t seen the movie then, so I took that as the ultimate compliment. I work hard to find the bright side of any situation. But reflecting on the real premise of the movie, I wonder if being always on the joyful side has kept me from fully experiencing the sadness in my life. 

As I grieved when we lost our Mom when I was 14, I coped by diverting my energy to busyness – classes, work, extracurricular activities, anything to keep from thinking about her and missing her. To keep from the sadness that I should have experienced then. Perhaps that’s why I am still growing from my grief for her 48 years later because I didn’t deal with the sadness, the mourning, then. I am blessed to have been led to religious retreats and writing of our family’s story, We Lost Her, that helped me to work through that sadness and emerge even happier. 

Heartlinks Grief Center helps those on their grief journey to work through that sadness, each in their own way. The counselors there don’t downplay sadness or other emotions, like anger and guilt. They help the grieving individual to embrace these emotions and work their way through them, in the timeframe they need. And, hopefully, back to joy.

In the weeks ahead, the request I have for you, dear reader, is to acknowledge sadness as an important part of who you are right now. Give yourself the grace to be sad if you need to, as long as you need to, and, then, to move on and grow from that experience. Grief and the growth we can achieve as we become stronger, even better, kinder people, can be a great gift. I also encourage you to watch the movie Inside Out and enjoy the simple goodness of this beautiful lesson on emotions.

Be Blessed,


“We Grow Stronger Together”

Ellen Krohne, author of We Lost Her, available on 

Heartlinks Grief Center volunteer and Family Hospice board member

Certified Grief Coach

One Reply to “Inside Out”

  1. As a person who was a Joy before the death of my husband, others did not know how to deal with my sadness. Thank you for this post. I am sure many can identify with this situation.

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