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Symbols of Sadness (5 Symbols)

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This blog provides a comprehensive guide to widely used symbols of sadness and ways to deal with bouts of sadness.

Symbols of Sadness 

The symbols of sadness are a lot more noticeable when we experience the sadness in ourselves, which we otherwise ignore.

Symbols of sadness have been extensively used as tools by writers, poets, artists, singers, and musicians for centuries. They have been using them to express their emotions through their desired form of art and touch people’s hearts through it.

A variety of symbols of sadness can be observed in:

  • Literature
  • Music
  • Dreams
  • Visual arts and movies
  • Mental Health
  • Nature

Symbols of Sadness in Literature

In literature, symbolism is an entire literary device that utilizes the symbols, such as people, words, locations, marks of abstract ideas to describe something beyond the literal meaning.

A general symbol for sadness in the literature have been severe droughts, thunderstorms, and rain. Like butterflies, owls, and ravens, some animals have been used as symbols of sadness in famous literature.

For instance, Edgar Alan Poe wrote the heartbreakingly beautiful poem “The Raven”. Ravens are scavengers and throughout history on war fields, they have been known to pick on the ruminants of the dead soldiers. Hence, it is no surprise that they are associated with the gloom and doom of death. Likewise, the crows are also considered to be a bad omen.

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Symbols of Sadness in Music

One of the best symbols of sadness can be observed in music.

For instance, in “Burying a friend”, the singer Billie Eilish uses symbols to express her struggles with mental illness and how she wrestled with her suicidal thoughts.

Generally, not only depressed people are drawn to sad music but people with sound and stable mental health also enjoy the sad music and the music that is immersed with symbols of sadness.

A study shows that people are drawn to sad music for numerous reasons, but the most interesting one is that it is a healthy emotion when felt in moderation. Thus, sad music can elicit a response among the listeners that they are being heard and they are not the only ones feeling that way.

One of the most hauntingly beautiful instruments that express sadness perfectly is a violin. Moreover, chords and minor chord progression are also used as symbols of sadness and make the melody even more emotional.

Additionally, symbols of sadness in music can be phenomenal because you don’t even have to know the language to understand the meaning or the underlying tone of the music. Language is governed by grammar and syntax, making it difficult for people to express and understand ideas in the same language.

Music can invoke the same emotion throughout the globe.  The symbols of sadness in music emerged from the need for mutual and learned symbolism. Additionally, without a visual aspect, the symbols in music can be understood so vastly and easily.

Music is processed in the brain’s primal areas, areas that are the old pathways inherited from our ancestors. Henceforth, music can create their own visuals that facilitate you in inventing your unique picture.

Symbols of Sadness in Dreams

Sigmund Freud, the father of Psychology, is popularly recognized for his work on the interpretation of dreams. This method claimed to understand the person’s subconscious through dreams they are perhaps too conscious of expressing or recognizing altogether.

Freud would recommend clients to maintain a dream journal and would ask them to recall their dreams in the sessions. He enumerated a long list of symbols that commonly emerged in the dreams, such as losing a loved one, losing the teeth, etc., and wrote the encyclopedia of dreams called “the Interpretation of Dreams”.

Typically, when anyone speaks about the symbols of sadness in their dreams, they refer to the intense emotion of sadness while sleeping or seeing themselves crying or mourning somebody’s loss. The continual symbol of loss and being sad in a dream hints towards the person’s fear of attachment.

People with abandonment fears often see their loved ones are dying or hiding away from them. Additionally, another interesting symbol of sadness can be blurriness and darkness. Unable to recall your dreams or reminisce them in a blurry manner is also a symbol of sadness, implying that you are not attuned with your subconscious.

Symbols of Sadness in Visual Arts and Movies

Visual arts and movies have incredibly shown the symbols of sadness in the respective medium.

For example, in paintings, the dark and muted colors, or lighter colors with a stark contrast against one another, are used as strong symbols of sadness.

 Moreover, paintings that feature people, shown as coming forward may also be some important symbols of sadness. A classic example would be the Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci. Critics claim that the smile of this famous painting is not a bright happy smile, instead it shows the silent sadness.

The cinematic expression of sadness is striking. Complex and abstract symbols can be expressed by engaging the brain’s senses and primitive centers that control complex emotions that work beyond the sensory modalities.

Symbols of Sadness in Mental Health

In psychology, symbols of sadness can be assessed and identified by the people through a number of personality tests like the Thematic Apperception Test and the Rorschach Inkblot Test. The client is exposed to different stimuli and formulate various responses regarding the respective card.

Clients are encouraged to form stories in thematic apperception tests, and they can create happy endings or lose it all at the end. Such stories may have a variety of symbols of sadness, which helps the therapist or clinician analyze the test taker’s personality.

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Symbols of Sadness in Nature

Nature offers numerous symbols of sadness, including the plants and animals, and even in the weather conditions, which can depict sad emotions and unrested mindset.

Symbols of sadness in nature can be observed in the wilted flowers and the fallen leaves or the bare trees. Flowers can alone convey the feelings of remorse, sadness, sorrow, and regret.

A common symbolism for sadness expressed through flowers could include a bunch of withered and dead flowers, signifying the death of love, or the tormented inner self, due to a loss of someone special or a heartbreak.

Purple Hyacinths are the specific flowers associated with sadness. These flowers are usually seen on funerals and sad events since they depict sorrow and melancholy.

The climatic features of the sky most signified by the presence of rain and thunderstorms, are associated with depression and darkness. Rain falling from the sky is symbolic of tears flowing down the eyes.

Symbols of Sadness in Ancient Times

Hieroglyphs from the tombs of popular emperors and the cave symbols are also some of the examples of symbols of sadness from ancient times.

Ancient symbology also emphasized natural things like plants, animals, or flowers to express the sadness among people. Ancient symbology focused on the colors, portraying the emotion by putting the message of sadness across the viewers.

Most commonly, black color was symbolic of death and the gloominess, however it also symbolized power and authority.

Black color was also symbolic of the submission to God; hence the priests usually wear this color. On the other hand, black also depicts evil and negativity, which is why Dracula had a black cape.

Popular Symbols of Sadness

Some of the most popular symbols of sadness are given below:

  • Woods and thick forests
  • Thunderstorms
  •  Heavy rainfall
  • Black color
  • Darkness
  • Night
  •  Low and gloomy music
  •  Purple hyacinths
  • Raven
  •  Wilted flowers
  •  Shallow and light brushstrokes in the paintings
  •  Broken heart
  • Looking in the darkness
  •  Abyss and valleys

Popular symbols of sadness can comprise anything that could tell what the person is feeling inside, and sadness is usually linked to the foggy mind, lack of thinking accompanied by uncontrolled tears, and the symbols of sadness.


In this comprehensive guide, we discussed commonly used symbols of sadness. Some of the most widely known symbols of sadness in nature are rain, thunderstorms, withered flowers, and falling leaves. 

There is a wide range of symbols of sadness used in art and music. Artists and musicians are particularly intrigued with the expression of symbols of sadness, and they have made it a subject of their interest for a long time.

Psychology and mental health also place great importance on the symbols of sadness. It can be observed in the personality test such as the Thematic Apperception Tests and Rorschach Inkblot Tests. Dream interpretation is a specific area in this field that delves deeper into the symbolism of sadness. It can range from simple to more complex symbols indicating the state of the subconscious and unconscious part of the human brain.

If you enjoyed the ”Symbols of Sadness” take a look to ”Depression Monologues” too.

FAQs: Symbols of Sadness

What is a symbol of sadness?

Rain is typically used as the symbol of sadness in various mediums like art, movies, and literature. Rain is particularly one of the best symbols of sadness because of its reality since the weather is known to bring waves of sadness, loneliness, depression, and general exhaustion.

It is also symbolic of how one would talk about crying and tearing down due to helplessness.

What flower symbolizes sadness?

Hyacinth is a purple flower most common symbol of regret and sorrow.

What flower means hate?

Aconite or Monkshood described ‘hatred’ or ‘be cautious’. This is a pretty vivid blue flower, but it symbolizes hate.

What is a symbol of loneliness?

Some of the iconic symbols of loneliness include a raven, a wolf howling in the full moon, and the wolverine.

Other common symbols of loneliness are empty halls, tears, thunderstorms and rain, and darkness.

In some cases, loneliness is symbolized by dark and monochromatic colors.

What is the most powerful symbol?

The Hamsa is considered to be the most powerful symbol. It is referred to as the healing hand. It is also known as the Hand of Fatima. The Hamsa is a revered symbol for divine safeguarding and is said to dispel the negative influence and energies.

Another powerful symbol is the Cross, the symbol of infinite affection and love.
Moreover, the Ankh is the symbol for the key of life, which is also revered by the vast population.

What animal represents depression?

The Monarch Butterfly is a majestic creature that has been widely used as a symbol for people impacted by mental illness. In its early development stage, the butterfly’s cocoon-like state is symbolic of the depressed and indifferent feelings generally shared by people affected by mental illness.


Sachs, M. E., Damasio, A., & Habibi, A. (2015). The pleasures of sad music: a systematic review. Frontiers in human neuroscience9, 404.

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