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  • Writer's pictureBrian Hartzman

It hurts as much as you loved... but for how long?!?!

I've seen and had many conversations about grief with people, and often come across the misnomer that "it gets easier".

Most of us who have experienced some sort of traumatic loss can say with certainty that it doesn't necessarily get 'easier'... Easier implies a hope towards "ease", but in actuality, it gets different. It becomes a part of us, and we learn to live with grief as a part of who we are now, but when it comes, it hurts as much as it ever did.

A number of people have come up with analogies for living a life with grief, and there are three approaches that I think hit the nail fairly well on the head. Those who have experienced traumatic loss may debate the nuances of how accurately they depict "their" grief, but I think all will agree these are fairly accurate and are useful to help explain grief to those who don't necessarily "get it". The ones I chose to share here are:

1) The Ball and The Box (grief gets smaller as time progresses)

2) The box/life grows around your grief

3) Life growing around your grief (prettymuch, the same as 2) above, but a video from a BBC story)

1) The Ball and The Box

In 2017, Twitter user Lauren Herschel‏ posted how her doctor explained grief to her as her family dealt with the death of her mother. The analogy (in detail in the link below), is essentially this:

  • Grief is like a ball in a box. In the box is a button that causes pain when pushed.

  • Early in grief, the ball fills the box, and almost persistently presses the button.

  • As time passes, the ball gets smaller, rattling around the box, hitting the button less freuently.

  • It's not necessarily less painful, but less often. However, the ball never fully goes away.

2) The box/life get's bigger around your grief (not the ball)

This viewpoint is similar, but different enough to call out:

  • The ball/grief does not shrink (as proposed in the ball and the box above and in the images of jars on the left page)

  • Instead the ball/grief remains the same, but the box/jar/life continues and grows and gets bigger around it, allowing the grief to be less consuming.

This idea also points out that the bereaved do not necessarily "wish to lose their grief: it is their last tie with the person they loved. To lose their grief, or to lessen it, again seems to diminish the extent of the loss they have suffered and the value of the person they have lost.”

3) Life growing around your grief (as described in a BBC story)

Essentially, this story from BBC explains the same sentiment as the jar/life getting larger arond your grief as expressed in: Grieving: A Beginner's Guide, but in an easy to digest and share video.

I hope this helps as you process your grief and try to engage with others around you who have been fortunate enough to not yet understand the impact of grief on your life.

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