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A journey through grief & self discovery

  • Writer's pictureChristine Angelique

The "Grief Ball" vs. The "Pain Button"

**Grief Trigger Warning**

Life has been busy lately, and honestly, I've gladly welcomed it. I've had the capacity to check in with more friends, and build new connections. I've been preoccupied with more work, and adulting responsibilities, so much so, it’s become easier to put my grief on the back-burner. This made me think of The Ball and Box Analogy for grief. There's a box that represents life, and a huge ball bouncing around, that represents grief. At the beginning of one’s grief journey, there's less space to move around, so the ball hits a button, that represents pain, constantly. The "pain button" represents the tears, sadness, and heartache that randomly overcomes you when a wave of grief strikes. They say over time the ball gets smaller and smaller, so it starts to hit the button less and less as you begin to heal. 

I do believe time has helped my "grief ball" become smaller. However, more accurately, I think I just filled my "life box" with more things to crowd the space between my "pain button" and the ball. Overall, that has had a positive impact on my life and grief journey. My blog is working! I'm doing more to create better moments for myself, and allowing myself to enjoy, and participate in life again. Although on the flip side, I am also using these things to distract myself, in hopes to avoid the pain button altogether. And ignoring emotions that need to come out is a dangerous game to play. Ultimately, your body will do what it needs. If you're sleep deprived, you will crash at some point. If you don't eat and hydrate, you will faint. If you try to stifle grief, you will fail because that pain has to release, sooner or later.

My "sooner or later" moment started when my oldest sister, Shanee, shared in our family group chat that mom's headstone was finally ready, and being placed at her grave.

Funeral Fact: You have to wait for the soil to settle for at least six months after the burial before placing the headstone. I think if the ground isn't settled properly, the headstone, with all its weight, will start to sink. It took 8 months for my mom's headstone to finally be placed. I remember looking at the picture Shanee sent, and honestly, I couldn't process what I was seeing. It was like I entered the denial phase of grief all over again. Seeing my mom's name on that stone felt so foreign to me. I had too many mixed emotions, especially since lately I haven’t allowed my grief ball to bounce around at all. I wanted it to feel like an exhale. "The headstone is there. It's finished." But instead, I just quickly closed the group chat, unable to process my emotions on the matter, and my tucked away grief started to leak. The clutter in my life box, both good and bad, started to clear, and my grief ball had space to move around again.

The ball didn't officially hit the pain button until I started writing this blog post. I stared at the picture of the headstone, and allowed myself to feel every feeling. My body needed to release the pain I stifled, so it did. I cried and screamed releasing it all. My life has actually been pretty great lately, but the pain of my mom not being here to see it, and not being able to call her with all my exciting news was too much to bear. Seeing the headstone was too official. It made it real that she's gone. It also made me sad to think this is my life now. Every new exciting event, or happy moment will always have a bit of sadness around it because I'll be wishing my mom was here to share these moments with me. I believe she can, from heaven, but it's definitely not the same.

So yea, that's where I'm currently at in my grief journey. I'm reminded that though the grief ball will get smaller and smaller over time, every time it manages to hit the pain button, the pain will feel the same. It will hurt just as intensely as it did when I got the news my mom passed away. It will feel just as heartbreaking as watching them close the casket at her funeral. It will hurt all over again. The only silver lining I could find is that as time passes, it will take the ball so much longer to reach that pain button. So like this blog always reminds me, all I can do is live in the moment. Enjoy the good moments while they last, and release the pain when it's time.

(I don't feel comfortable sharing my mother's headstone online. I'll keep that for my family and I, and all her loved ones who decide to visit her grave. 💜)

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