The character for sadness is a symbol for negation or refusal of something. When we grieve it is natural to find it hard to accept the loss – at the extreme we can refuse to acknowledge what has occurred. To some extent sadness is about contending with loss and finding a way to accept and move on.
The pathology from sadness relates to saying no to what is, ie. Refusing to accept the change in circumstances. By refusing to acknowledge reality we contradict our spirits – driving a wedge between our perception and acceptance of reality.
When we are sad we close off ourselves to life and everything around us. Qi disappears and dries up. You are affected at the centre of vitality – life is lost.
Sadness affects not just vitality (qi disappears), immune function (yang qi moves to centre), and the lungs (we breath in but not so easily out) but also the whole upper burner including the heart. It can also affect the liver (through an overactive control cycle) producing agitation, muscle cramps, brittle hair and forgetfulness.