real life

A woman has shared a "ball in the box" analogy that so accurately sums up the pain of grief.

There often aren’t enough words to describe the intense feeling of grief.

It’s complex, distinctly unique, and persistent. Not only that, but there’s simply no right or wrong way to grieve a loss – all we know is that the pain of it can strike at any moment, unexplained.

But one woman, Lauren Herschel, has shared an analogy told to her by her doctor, which many people have said perfectly explains what grief is really like.

It’s called the “ball in the box”.

“After what has been a surprisingly okayish Christmas, I had a moment today in SuperStore,” Herschel began on her Twitter account.

“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,” she wrote in a tweet that has recently resurfaced.


Right when the loss occurs, the ball is at its largest in size, inching up against the walls of the box and incidentally pushing the pain button.

But then, something happens. Time.


Though the diagram is as uncomplicated as that, the analogy rang true for so many people on Twitter.

“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…” one Twitter user wrote in response.

“I think you did a great job boiling down grief into a very understandable thing that ‘makes sense’ to a lot of people,” praised another.

Herschel also revealed that her step father uses the analogy as a tool to describe not just his grief, but his day-to-day feelings and emotions.

“The Ball was really big today. It wouldn’t lay off the button. I hope it gets smaller soon. Slowly it is.”

Does the “ball in the box” analogy resonate with you? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.