Woman’s Viral Thread Perfectly Explains Why You Can’t Just ‘Get Over’ Grief

One of the most difficult things we will have to deal with in life is the loss of a loved one in death. When it happens, we experience one of the most difficult emotions, that of grief. It is something that affects us on a very personal level and often, it is something we have a difficult time describing. Sure, there are different things we may read, such as the different stages of grief but they often don’t hit us on a personal level.

It is especially difficult when we try to express how we are feeling to others. They will often tell us that they know how we feel, and that may be true on a limited basis, but unless they are actually feeling what we are feeling the best they can do is to be empathetic. In the end, we might say that death is a normal part of life but when we feel those feelings so deeply, it feels anything but normal.

Lauren Herschel is a Twitter user who posted something that is making a lot of people feel that it describes their grief perfectly. She shared the analogy of ‘the ball in the box’.

After what has been a surprisingly okayish Christmas, I had a moment today in SuperStore. Saw a lady who reminded me of my 92yo grandma, who even in the early stages of dementia, completely understood that my mom died.
I thought I’d share the Ball in the Box analogy my Dr told me pic.twitter.com/YfFT26ffU8

— Lauren Herschel (@LaurenHerschel) December 29, 2017

Her doctor shared it with her to help her understand how grief works in the brain.

So grief is like this:
There’s a box with a ball in it. And a pain button.
And no, I am not known for my art skills. pic.twitter.com/XDwCCdXVkc

— Lauren Herschel (@LaurenHerschel) December 29, 2017

In the beginning, the ball is huge. You can’t move the box without the ball hitting the pain button. 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. pic.twitter.com/Wcas2p4vab

— Lauren Herschel (@LaurenHerschel) December 29, 2017

According to the theory, grief is like a ball trapped in a box. The box also has a pain button. When we first experience a loss, the ball fills the box and is triggering the pain button constantly. As time passes, the ball gets smaller and the pain button is not activated so frequently.

Over time, the ball gets smaller. It hits the button less and less but when it does, it hurts just as much. It’s better because you can function day to day more easily. But the downside is that the ball randomly hits that button when you least expect it. pic.twitter.com/fevAttojBg

— Lauren Herschel (@LaurenHerschel) December 29, 2017

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.
I thought this was the best description of grief I’ve heard in a long time.

— Lauren Herschel (@LaurenHerschel) December 29, 2017

Even though the ball gets smaller, it never goes away completely. Sometimes the pain button may be activated out of the blue. There may also be specific triggers that make the ball grow larger, even after you thought it was gone.

I told my step dad about the ball in the box (with even worse pictures). He now uses it to talk about how he’s feeling.
“The Ball was really big today. It wouldn’t lay off the button. I hope it gets smaller soon.”

Slowly it is.

— Lauren Herschel (@LaurenHerschel) December 29, 2017

Other people agreed with the analogy and started to share their own stories.

I want you to know that this is literally one of the best things I have ever read on Twitter… #theballgetssmaller ♥️♥️♥️

— Lauryn Norton (@laurynnorton) January 19, 2018

I’m glad you liked it! It’s awesome so many people are finding it useful and accurate

— Lauren Herschel (@LaurenHerschel) January 19, 2018

It is SO accurate. I am a nurse and lost my grandpa in a very bad way last year and this is one of the first things I’ve read that completely matches my grief…

— Lauryn Norton (@laurynnorton) January 19, 2018

Thanks Lauren! I lost both parents within 9 days. I’ve got two balls in my box. This analogy helps! pic.twitter.com/DxZMO7bx58

— Jeff Davenport (@jeffdavenport) March 24, 2018

That must have been tough. I lost my dad 22 years ago & that ball had gotten a lot smaller – but when my mom was dying last fall, I was surprised how much that seemed to re-activate the “Dad” ball, while I was pre-grieving & then grieving her. So I understand the two ball notion

— Lauren Herschel (@LaurenHerschel) March 24, 2018

One woman talked about how all of us experience grief so it is good to be able to describe it.

One thing I find amazing and horrifying is that we all have to travel this path of grief at some point in our lives. It is inescapable. All deal with it differently, & partly due to situation. My 21yo sister was killed 6.5 months ago. My ball is still incredibly big… /1

— Emily Gibson (@emegibson) January 12, 2018

But I’m hopeful that justice for her death, time and actually coming out of survival mode and getting help to face this with make it easier. Thanks for sharing. And sending you &your family ?./End

— Emily Gibson (@emegibson) January 12, 2018

I’m really sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine what it is like for you. These things definitely make people stronger once we get through the worst of it.

— Lauren Herschel (@LaurenHerschel) January 13, 2018

I hope you don’t mind, I kinda stole this and put it in a notebook I keep for mental health/self help stuff to refer back to. It resonates so much with me right now. Thank you for sharing. pic.twitter.com/Q9TjlCpuPX

— angelica (@ReinaDeLaIsla) February 7, 2018

A wise lady once told me that the pain you feel when you lose someone important is there to remind us how important they were, and to remind us to think about those people we still have who are important, and we should maybe let them know they’re important to us

— AL ?? (@AlertCalgarian) January 12, 2018