Remember that I've characterized the affect system as a bank of spotlights, each of a different color that motivates us to act in a different manner, each turned on by a different switch. No matter which light is turned on, it illuminates a scene in such a way that some item is plucked from the background and moved into foreground as the figure we will now study.
As we study or analyze that figure, that new subject of our attention, we tend to solve the problem it has moved into consciousness. That is why, in the first part of your comment, a "good cry" makes us feel better---the affect distress-anguish has moved some matter into consciousness, after which we solved the problem it brought there.
Nevertheless, some of the matters on which we might focus are more complex, like mourning (which involves literally thousands of separate memories of our relationship with the deceased). In such a situation, the affect allows us to focus precisely on the one memory that had just come to mind, at which point memory brings up an association, which then triggers new affect (in this case, still more distress-anguish) that in recursive fashion perpetuates further cycles of memory and affect until something exhausts us or another source of affect enters the picture to distract us from the work of mourning.
Notice that this ability to shift focus depends on the plasticity of the affect system. We use terms like "depression" (a real unfavorite of mine) when an individual is unable to shift from the negative affect in question, unable to shift for practically any reason. We grade this inability with terms like "hedonic" or "anhedonic" depression, which registers the idea that there is a hierarchy of stimuli that can distract us from the core source of distress-anguish. This one of the reasons I ask us to examine each episode of emotionality in terms of hardware, firmware, and software.
The question you raise is one of the most important distinctions to be learned in the study of affect in everyday life.