Lesson 7: A Metaphor for Grief


A Ball of Sting


“Getting through the first year of your grief is like winding a ball of string.  You start with an end and wind and wind.  Then the ball slips through your fingers and rolls across the floor.  Some of the work is undone, but not all.  You pick it up and start over again, but never do you have to begin at the end of the string.  The ball never completely unwinds; you’ve made some progress.”   – Kay Talbot

A metaphor is a figure of speech in which a term or phrase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable in order to suggest a resemblance.  It can be a clever and sometimes light way to describe or express one’s experience of grief.

Note how Kay uses a metaphor one might relate to, or at least can imagine.  She is realistic in noting that there is movement backward as well as forward, yet one never re-starts from the beginning.  There is an element of hopefulness.

“Grief is like the waves of the ocean.  One would knock me down, and just as I would get my feet under me another would come and knock me down again.  I decided I had better learn how to surf.”  An anonymous griever


Take time to think over your grief journey to this point.  Do you see your journey in a similar way — as a ball of string, ocean waves?  Do you have another metaphor that might describe your journey where grief is constantly revisited and yet in some way different with each visit?