Disclaimer: This article contains major Frozen 2 spoilers.
It’s no secret that our family loves Disney. Disney movies, Disney characters, Disney World…we love it all. So of course, we braved the crowds and took all 4 kiddos to see Frozen 2 on opening weekend.
But no one told me I was going to need a different type of bravery to watch this movie.
Everything was going well—We laughed with Olaf, giggled at Kristoff’s 80s style ballad, and held our breath as Elsa sought her destiny.
And then, Disney showed us the reality of grief.
As I listened to Anna sing The Next Right Thing and watched her struggle with Elsa’s death, it was like a punch to the gut and a relief all at the same time.
Gut-wrenching because the rawness of that scene and the gravity of her grief transported me to the days, weeks, and months after my own father’s death when my grief was new and big and filled up all the spaces in my life.
“I’ve seen dark before
But not like this
This is cold
This is empty
This is numb
The life I knew is over
The light’s are out
I’m ready to succumb”
Through my sobs right there in the theater, I recognized that this was probably the most accurate description of grief I’d ever heard.
But it was also a relief because finally…finally, someone understood! Almost 10 years after my father’s death, and it was literally the first time I felt like someone “got it.”
Our society does not talk about grief.
If your company is one of the few that has a bereavement policy, it may give you two or three days; then you return to work or school, and you’re supposed to magically be okay and somehow go on like your life didn’t just get turned upside down.
Here’s the thing: Grief isolates you. It makes you feel different. Alone. Separate. Grief makes people uncomfortable. They don’t know what to say to you or how to act around you.
I remember making an offhand comment to someone about 6 months after my dad died; something to the effect of, “You know, I don’t really remember that. I’ve spent the last few months struggling to get out of bed everyday.” I’ll never forget the look this lady, who I loved and respected, gave me—like I’d committed some kind of social faux pas. It was clear she didn’t think my comment was appropriate for polite conversation.
So thank you, Disney, for making grief a part of the conversation, for not tip-toeing around it’s crushing gravity that pushes us down.
Thank you for allowing us to see Anna’s pain and to share that with her. Thank you for making grief a little less taboo.
If you’re grieving, find people who have also felt the gravity of grief, find people who “get it.” Tell your story, say their names, and if people are uncomfortable, that’s on them, not you—just “take a step” and then “step again.”
If you love someone who is grieving, know that you can’t make it better for us. But you can help us feel a little less alone. Stand in that space for us and allow us to feel and do and say whatever we need. Support us as we try to take those small steps and do “the next right thing.”