Grief is not only non-linear, but completely inconceivable until you've experienced it firsthand. Even then, grief manifests differently depending on how you emotionally process, who you lost, how you lost them, and the strength of your support system.Attempting to explain grief, and the ways mourning comes and goes at will, can be incredibly difficult. How do you sum up a sadness that is constantly shifting and often out of grasp? Death and loss, while normal, still don't settle into our brains lightly, so it makes sense that we're sent into a jolt of non-linear emotional grappling.The Twitter user Lauren Herschel quickly went viral for her thread on grief, wherein she shared the visual analogy of "the ball and the box."After what has been a surprisingly okayish Christmas, I had a moment today in SuperStore. Saw a lady who reminded me of my 92yo grandma, who even in the early stages of dementia, completely understood that my mom died.I thought I’d share the Ball in the Box analogy my Dr told me pic.twitter.com/YfFT26ffU8— Lauren Herschel (@LaurenHerschel) December 29, 2017 The theory was first shared by Herschel's doctor, who uses it to describe how grief is triggered in the brain.So grief is like this:There’s a box with a ball in it. And a pain button.And no, I am not known for my art skills. pic.twitter.com/XDwCCdXVkc— Lauren Herschel (@LaurenHerschel) December 29, 2017 In the beginning, the ball is huge. You can’t move the box without the ball hitting the pain button. It rattles around on its own in there and hits the button over and over. You can’t control it - it just keeps hurting. Sometimes it seems unrelenting. pic.twitter.com/Wcas2p4vab— Lauren Herschel (@LaurenHerschel) December 29, 2017 Essentially, the theory sums up grief as a ball in a box with a pain button. The ball is largest immediately after a trauma or loss, which means almost any action can trigger the pain button. But, as time goes on, the ball often gradually shrinks and the pain button is activated less often.Over time, the ball gets smaller. It hits the button less and less but when it does, it hurts just as much. It’s better because you can function day to day more easily. But the downside is that the ball randomly hits that button when you least expect it. pic.twitter.com/fevAttojBg— Lauren Herschel (@LaurenHerschel) December 29, 2017 For most people, the ball never really goes away. It might hit less and less and you have more time to recover between hits, unlike when the ball was still giant. I thought this was the best description of grief I’ve heard in a long time.— Lauren Herschel (@LaurenHerschel) December 29, 2017 While it may get smaller, the ball of grief usually lasts forever, and sometimes the pain button will be activated when you least expect. Also, it's not unusual for certain pain button triggers to cause the ball of grief to grow larger for a period, after you thought it had permanently shrunk.I told my step dad about the ball in the box (with even worse pictures). He now uses it to talk about how he’s feeling.“The Ball was really big today. It wouldn’t lay off the button. I hope it gets smaller soon.”Slowly it is.— Lauren Herschel (@LaurenHerschel) December 29, 2017 The thread quickly filled up with people sharing how grief has affected them, and how well the analogy sums up a nearly indescribable process of healing.I want you to know that this is literally one of the best things I have ever read on Twitter... #theballgetssmaller ♥️♥️♥️— Lauryn Norton (@laurynnorton) January 19, 2018 I’m glad you liked it! It’s awesome so many people are finding it useful and accurate— Lauren Herschel (@LaurenHerschel) January 19, 2018 It is SO accurate. I am a nurse and lost my grandpa in a very bad way last year and this is one of the first things I've read that completely matches my grief...— Lauryn Norton (@laurynnorton) January 19, 2018 Thanks Lauren! I lost both parents within 9 days. I’ve got two balls in my box. This analogy helps! pic.twitter.com/DxZMO7bx58— Jeff Davenport (@jeffdavenport) March 24, 2018 That must have been tough. I lost my dad 22 years ago & that ball had gotten a lot smaller - but when my mom was dying last fall, I was surprised how much that seemed to re-activate the “Dad” ball, while I was pre-grieving & then grieving her. So I understand the two ball notion— Lauren Herschel (@LaurenHerschel) March 24, 2018 As one woman so succinctly put it, we all have to experience grief eventually, so we might as well have the language for it.One thing I find amazing and horrifying is that we all have to travel this path of grief at some point in our lives. It is inescapable. All deal with it differently, & partly due to situation. My 21yo sister was killed 6.5 months ago. My ball is still incredibly big... /1— E Gibson (@emegibson) January 12, 2018 But I'm hopeful that justice for her death, time and actually coming out of survival mode and getting help to face this with make it easier. Thanks for sharing. And sending you &your family 💙./End— E Gibson (@emegibson) January 12, 2018 I’m really sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine what it is like for you. These things definitely make people stronger once we get through the worst of it.— Lauren Herschel (@LaurenHerschel) January 13, 2018 I hope you don't mind, I kinda stole this and put it in a notebook I keep for mental health/self help stuff to refer back to. It resonates so much with me right now. Thank you for sharing. pic.twitter.com/Q9TjlCpuPX— an outrage elf (@ReinaDeLaIsla) February 7, 2018 A wise lady once told me that the pain you feel when you lose someone important is there to remind us how important they were, and to remind us to think about those people we still have who are important, and we should maybe let them know they’re important to us— AL 🇨🇦 (@AlertCalgarian) January 12, 2018 Hopefully, this analogy can help even more people learn how to approach and express their experience with grief. Being able to communicate your heaviness does a lot to lighten the load.