Woman Explains Grief with 'Ball in Box' Analogy Her Doctor Taught Her

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Talking about grief is not usually an enjoyable topic, but one woman has passed down a piece of wisdom that is helping people process their grief a bit easier.

Lauren Herschel, from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, is no stranger to grief. Both of her parents have passed and she has muddled through many seasons of life, like Christmas, with mixed feelings of sorrow and joy.

Shortly after Christmas 2017, Herschel shared a piece of advice she received from her doctor: the “ball and the box” analogy. The simple but effective drawing explains how grief behaves in the lives of many people.

Herschel explained that grief is like a box with two objects inside: a ball and a pain button.

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“In the beginning, the ball is huge. You can’t move the box without the ball hitting the pain button,” Herschel wrote.

“It rattles around on its own in there and hits the button over and over.

“You can’t control it — it just keeps hurting. Sometimes it seems unrelenting.”

Have you heard this analogy before?

Over time, the ball begins to shrink. The ball does not hit the pain button as often as before, giving us more time to function in life in between episodes of grief.

But when the ball does press the pain button, it hurts just as much.

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“It’s better because you can function day to day more easily,” Herschel wrote. “But the downside is that the ball randomly hits that button when you least expect it.”

“For most people, the ball never really goes away. It might hit less and less and you have more time to recover between hits, unlike when the ball was still giant.”

Herschel’s explanation resonated with people, as many were able to understand their grief in a simple way and talk about it openly.

Herschel understands that talking about grief is not easy, but she is glad people are having the conversation.

“I think we absolutely need to talk about grief and death more,” Herschel told Bored Panda.

“It is normal, yet so many people feel like they can’t talk about it, or can only talk about it for a short prescribed period right after someone passes. But grief is a longer journey than that.”

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A graduate of Grand Canyon University, Kim Davis has been writing for The Western Journal since 2015, focusing on lifestyle stories.
Kim Davis began writing for The Western Journal in 2015. Her primary topics cover family, faith, and women. She has experience as a copy editor for the online publication Thoughtful Women. Kim worked as an arts administrator for The Phoenix Symphony, writing music education curriculum and leading community engagement programs throughout the region. She holds a degree in music education from Grand Canyon University with a minor in eating tacos.
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