How does grief work?

Saturday is my mom's 11th Angel Birthday. 

It's hard to believe and yet I was recently sharing a few of the last pictures of my mom with one of my dearest friends.  My daughters were so little in those pictures with her. It made me so sad to think that there would never be pictures with them now at this fun and glorious age.  I know my mom would have loved every minute of all that is going on these days.

And in that brief moment, it hurt like it did in the beginning...11 years later. 

Recently, I came across this amazing description on grief by Laura Herschel, and I felt like it could not have been more accurate. It's made its way around the internet but it was new to me so wanted to share it here.  

She described grief as a box and a ball.


The first circle on the left depicts our grief in the beginning.  Every time the circle pushes on the red button, we get that pang of grief. When that button is pushed, we feel the hurt and loss intensely. 

Over time, our grief circle inside gets smaller and it hits the red button less. 

But when it hits the red button, it hurts like it did in the beginning- raw, vulnerable, painful grief. 

It's not that grief goes away, we just get triggered less. But when we are triggered, it can hurt the same way it did in the beginning. 

Through the years since Angel Birthdays publication, my talk on grief evolved.  It evolved from the grief we feel when we lose a loved one to the idea that every time we experience a life shift, we feel grief. Different levels of grief but grief all the same. 

When we can begin to recognize it is grief we are feeling, at every life change, we can be more compassionate, kind and loving toward ourselves. 

Be kind and good to you today.  Whatever you are feeling, there is always room to be more gentle with your heart. Remember that your red button won't always be pushed but when it does let it be loved up on, held and comforted.

Much love,

Erin Garay