The Gravity of Grief, and a Way Through

The Gravity of Grief

Stick with me on this one – I think it’s important.

When COVID lockdowns started, I found myself very isolated at home with two very little children. TV became a primary escape for us as parks, beaches and even grandparents were off limits. When Disney released Frozen 2 early, I was excited to watch it with my 3 year old daughter. Little did I think I would absolutely adore this movie. There are many reasons it speaks to me, but what surprised me was how it speaks to the community of readers here.

Death isn’t uncommon in Disney movies, but grief is. Without giving anything away, the last song “The Next Right Thing,” offers one of the most striking portrayals of grief I’ve ever heard in a film. It vividly describes the emotions of grief and offers a mantra perfect for bereaved people: do the next right thing.

You can listen to the song here.

Each line is poignant and relatable to anyone who has lost somebody. I would encourage you to listen to it.

Here’s a sampling of what I’m talking about:

Can there be a day beyond this night?
I don’t know anymore what is true
I can’t find my direction, I’m all alone
The only star that guided me was you
How to rise from the floor?
But it’s not you I’m rising for
Just do the next right thing
Take a step, step again
It is all that I can to do
The next right thing

When we feel powerless, unsure, alone, frightened … how do we even begin to find our footing? When our spouse is suddenly gone and we wake up alone in the night, how do we even begin to grapple with that reality? In a world where turmoil, fear and anger are right on the surface, how do we navigate our experience or our part in this new climate? I love the simplicity of the command, just “do the next right thing.”

The next right thing could be extraordinarily simple and it likely should be. Any counselor will tell you that bereavement is not a wise or good time to make big decisions. Baby steps, the next right thing – that’s where we should aim to put our feet when we don’t know the territory.

As it would happen, before Frozen 2 hit theaters, a lovely little book hit the shelves last year called “The Next Right Thing” by Emily Freeman. In it she deconstructs our decision making processes and offers some remarkably helpful perspective on how to simplify the amount of choice and stress in our lives.

In a world that bombards us with decisions to make we could all use a little wisdom and help when it comes to understanding ourselves in the decision-making process.

Furthermore, I would argue that most of us can find ourselves in a state of grief or depression right now. To combat the powerlessness, to give an answer to the pain we ask; What do I DO? What CAN I do?

Well, what would the next right thing be?
  • It may be as simple as …
  • Hugging your child.
  • Picking clothes up off the floor.
  • Making the phone call you’ve been putting off.
  • Letting yourself cry.
  • Taking a nap.

Harnessing the intention of how and why we make decisions can change quite a bit in our lives.

Effective and good decision making gives freedom, creates active presence with yourself, and offers courage to make the next decision when it appears.

Doing the next right thing isn’t a roadmap out of grief or even out of pain. To put it simply, it offers a way to begin again. It seems to me to be an idea that every American would benefit from considering at this time. What does the next right thing look like for you?

My hope is that it leads you out of stuck-ness and into movement, into ways you can care for yourself, and into the hope that life and a new way of life are out there to be found.

Molly Keating
Molly Keating
Molly grew up in and around funeral homes her entire life. In 2009 she began working for O'Connor Mortuary and found a bridge between her passion for writing and her interest in grief and bereavement. In 2016 she earned Certification in the field of Thanatology, the study of Death, Dying and Bereavement. She is honored to be able to write about these taboo topics with knowledge, compassion, and a unique perspective.

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