If you were to define “grief” in the simplest of words, it would probably be something along the lines of “an individual’s natural response to loss” or “an extreme form of sadness”.
While this truly does explain what grief is, it is actually not that simple. Grief is one of the toughest, most demanding and painful feelings one experiences when they lose a loved one or go through an extremely difficult and unimaginable phase of their life. It is also one of the most complex human emotions, and brings with it intense feelings of emptiness, a severe kind of heartache and a never-ending phase of relentless sorrow.
Everyone experiences grief in a number of different ways and the process of dealing with grief is also never linear. Most of the times, the painful and agonizing feelings return in the most unforeseen ways at unexpected times.
Although easier said than done, life must go on and one must learn to understand grief and come to terms with it because only then can you help yourself move on in life, make sense of your feelings and live a healthy, happy life.
Dealing with Grief – The ‘Ball in the Box’ Analogy
Most people fail to understand the emotion of grief because it comes with so many stages that are essentially varied but equally overwhelming and devastating.
It is even harder to understand for those lucky people who have never had to go through, or experience this truly complex and difficult human emotion.
However, a woman named Lauren Herschel, who is also a Twitter user, shared an analogy she once learned from her doctor, which is called the “ball in the box” analogy. It primarily seeks to explain why grief never truly goes away, help people make sense of their troubled thoughts and feelings and also assist them during their healing process.
Dealing with grief is never easy or simple. Some say it is as hard and difficult to deal with it as is going through it. However, this analogy has been making rounds on twitter ever since Lauren shared it which goes to show that it wasn’t just her who found it useful in tough times but the theory actually resonated well with a multitude of people.
What is the “Ball in the Box” Analogy?
This is simply a theory that explains what grief is, how it functions, why and how a person’s grieving feelings change overtime, and lastly, how to deal with this kind of painful heartache.
‘Ball in the Box’ analogy uses a simple diagram that accurately sums up everything about grief and was basically constructed by Lauren’s doctor to help her cope with the loss of her mother.
It was found to be just the perfect way to help one understand why their feelings of grief never really go away. One of the main reasons behind this is that when you lose a loved one, you will encounter numerous triggers in life that will remind you of them and bring back all the memories associated with them.
The diagram basically was a portrayal of what grief is really like. There is a square-shaped box, and inside the box there is a ball and a pain button. There are basically two stages that a person goes through when dealing with grief.
This is the beginning or the initial stage when the ball inside the box is just huge. If you move the box, you will also move the ball which will end up hitting the pain button inside the box. Even if you don’t move it, the box will continue to rattle on its own and consequently, keeps hitting the pain button, too.
This stage explains how your grief is beyond your control and even if you don’t move the box, the painful feelings will just exist on its own and will keep hurting you relentlessly.
This stage refers to the ‘over-time’ period of life during which the ball inside the box continues to shrink in size. Now, you can move the box around without hitting the pain button since the ball may not necessarily strike against due to its small size. However, there will definitely be times when the ball might just end up hitting the pain button randomly some times. This random hit on the pain button is the major weakness of this stage because it does that randomly without notice and when you least expect it.
So, in essence, in this stage, you are functioning better, dealing with grief and moving on in life, however, when the ball does it the button, it hurts just as much and all the painful feelings seem to resurface all of a sudden.
The crux of the entire analogy is that every individual has different sized balls in their box of grief. And for some people, the ball doesn’t even ever go away. However, once the ball shrinks from its initial ‘giant’ size, chances are that now it will hit the pain button lesser than before. And one can seize the opportunity to recover in-between the hits when the ball isn’t knocking the pain button and truly understand how grief functions.
Don’t Rush To ‘Get Over’ Your Grief
While the analogy does an excellent job in explaining how grief works, it greatly emphasizes on the fact that one should never feel any pressure, or rush to “get over” their grief.
The time that the ball in the box takes to shrink can vary for each individual which is why one should always comfortably release their burden of grief without the fear of being judged by others.
It is safe to conclude that the process of dealing with grief and truly understanding it takes a great amount of time, patience and endurance. Regardless of how long it takes for the ball to shrink, one should always remember that everyone experiences and responds to grief differently. As long as we are able to open up about our feelings and articulate them into words, there is no rush and no pressure.