Picture a glass jar. Inside that jar there is a ball. The ball is jet black.
Today that ball can only just fit inside the jar because it is so big, there is no room for it to bounce around inside the jar once it’s there. There’s not much space for anything else inside that jar and what is in there is pretty depressing. Everything inside the jar is dark, black, cold.
Fast forward a few weeks and the ball has shrunk a little and begun to change colour. Not so much jet black, now a more charcoal grey. If you nudge the jar the ball moves a little. There are a few other things in the jar and some of them have a bit of colour – a dot of red here, a splash of yellow there. Some of the things the jar holds are pretty miserable, but there’s a few positive things too.
Now move on a few months and when we take another look we see the ball has shrunk a lot. It moves around freely inside the jar and is no longer charcoal grey but a mix of colours. There’s also quite a few other things inside the jar, too. Some things in the jar are dark and cold. Some are bright and warm. Everything in the jar seems to have space and be getting along together.
Take another look at that jar in a few years time and there may be some more balls in there, all different colours and some larger than others. There’ll also be bright things and dark things, all fitting together.
That ball is your grief. The glass jar is your life.
Initially, it feels as though grief is our whole world, our life. There is nothing else and we find it impossible to focus on anything else. Every other part of our life gets squashed by that ball. Over time, our grief shrinks a little to make room for other things. Other feelings, memories, events and every day life. Eventually, they sit alongside each other as a part of our life.
There will be times when something happens, another ball comes along and squashes everything, but over time that too will find it’s place in the jar.
Grief can very often be the only thing in our life to begin with, but over time it becomes a part of our life. I am not going to say it gets easier or we move on, because that isn’t what I feel happens. We learn to absorb our experience, understand our feelings and continue with life. That grief does not disappear and sometimes it may seem as though the ball has got larger again, but we learn what we need to do to shrink it down a little and make space for everything else.
In the early days of grief it can be incredibly overwhelming and difficult to imagine how there will ever be a day when it isn’t all you think about and see in your mind. This does ease, with time, and the ball does make room for other things in your jar again.