Grief is Like a Ball in a Box – Lauren Herschel’s Metaphor

I have received permission from Lauren Hershel to repost this magnificent metaphor she shared on Twitter about the nature of grief:

“There’s a box with a ball in it. And a pain button.”

With appreciation to Lauren Herschel for these diagrams.

“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.”

“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.”

“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)

Thank you so much Lauren Herschel for granting me permission to share this meaningful metaphor for grief.  I suspect it will speak to many, many people who have found themselves grappling with how to manage the ball in their box.

With deepest reverence for the unbearable ache of grief, Karen

11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. tianatowens
    Mar 07, 2019 @ 22:27:13

    YES! Brilliant diagrams! XO

    Liked by 1 person


  2. Linda Hennessy
    Sep 09, 2019 @ 10:03:29

    Thank you. Some people say they that grief should not be more than a year. I see it as a lifetime and thankyou for the ball I the box



    • Karen Lanser
      Sep 09, 2019 @ 11:53:09

      Linda ….. I am so very grateful to hear that you are comforted to know that the grief from your loss cannot be confined to a specific time frame, but rather, can be honored in your heart for eternity. Sending you warmest condolences … 💙



  3. Ludmilla Lawnicki
    Nov 09, 2019 @ 07:18:38

    The pain of loss is always there, hidden away for no one to see. You have been told to move on by family members that have never experienced such a loss. You keep silent as they will only roll their eyes if you make mention of your grief. The pain of grief suddenly rises to the top as anything or anyone can trigger the vivid memory of your loved one. You scream and cry alone.



    • Karen Lanser
      Nov 09, 2019 @ 08:18:30

      Oh Ludmilla … I am so very moved by the ache I can hear in your heartfelt sharing. I am also so saddened to hear that your grief has been silenced by your family. I am so humbled that you decided to honor your grief in your comments here and thank you for giving yourself permission to speak out. Please know that your sadness and pain and mourning are always welcome to be expressed in this space. I am energetically wrapping you with support and strength. May you know you are not alone. Thank you for being here.



  4. Caralyn Bechler Meng
    Feb 07, 2020 @ 19:26:00

    My husband passed 11 days ago. My ball is very large. Yes, there are moments when I think, “I’m doing ‘ok’.” The next moment my pain button is hit…. and then over and over and over. It’s overwhelming. I was very glad to see this ‘visual’ description of grief. It gives me understanding and hope.



  5. Jennifer Romano
    May 20, 2020 @ 09:28:11

    This is just brilliant. My sister shared it with me – and no one has every explained more succinctly the process of grief. Thank you for sharing this – it has been so meaningful as I go through my own grieving process.



    • Karen Lanser
      May 20, 2020 @ 12:10:56

      Thank you for taking the time to respond Jennifer. It is always so moving for me to know when people are finding the posts meaningful in some way. And, please accept my sincerest sympathy for your loss. May you find ample comfort and solace when that pain button gets pushed.



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