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Why grief is like a ball in a box

Why grief is like a ball in a box

The ‘ball in the box’ analogy helps to explain how feelings of grief change over time and can continue to be triggered at random moments.

Everyone experiences grief in different ways, with painful emotions often returning at unexpected times.

The analogy suggests grief is like a box with a ball in it and a pain button on one side.

Graphic showing a ball in a box with a pain button on one side


In the early stages, the ball is very big. You cannot move the box without it frequently hitting the pain button. It rattles around on its own in there and hits the button over and over again, sometimes so much that it feels like you can’t stop it – you can’t control it – it just keeps hurting.

Graphic showing the ball as large

But as time goes on, the ball gets smaller. It doesn’t disappear completely and when it hits the pain button, it’s just as intense, but generally, it is easier to get through each day.

Graphic showing the ball as small

The analogy can help to be able to talk about how you’re feeling each day. You may say that some days the ball is really big, endlessly hitting the button, and you just have to wait until it gets smaller again.

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