The Next Right Thing: Facing Grief (Part 1)

In my last post I talked about being at my grandparent’s house helping to care for my grandma. Unfortunately, that was the last week we had with her, and she passed away. I feel very blessed to have been there when she made the journey to heaven, and my mom (her daughter) was holding her hand. While it was incredibly peaceful at the time, the last few weeks have been anything but, as I have never experienced this type of grief before. My grandma and I were very close, and the thought of never seeing her again in this world seems out of the question. Yet here I am, in the midst of adjusting to my new normal, and I’m learning all kinds of new things.

My first step, the day after my grandma passed, was to schedule an emergency session with my counselor. I knew that this was a different type of sad, that I had never experienced before, so I knew that I would need new and different tools than what I currently had in my tool box. I’ll say this over and over, but part of living with mental illness is to recognize when you haven’t handled something before and to ask for help BEFORE it creates a problem that is too big for you to get ahold of. Nancy was incredibly helpful (as always,) and helped me to see that this wasn’t something I could solve over night, just like anything else I might deal with. I was going to have to have patience with myself, and continuously analyze where I was mentally.

The next thing I did after talking with Nancy may seem silly, but ya’ll don’t judge me, or if you do, you don’t comment about it, so I’ll tell you anyway; I watched a Disney® movie. Not just any movie mind you, I watched Frozen 2®. I’ve always really identified with the characters of Frozen® specifically Elsa, because she’s the first princess that fights something within herself. I’ve always seen her powers as something like a mental illness. She’s learning to live with them, but they scare her, and she doesn’t have total control over them. I also love that in Frozen 2, Disney gave Anna a lot more depth of character, and has her facing some pretty dark stuff. (Not that Disney has never done “Dark” before…) In the cave, after losing Olaf and (presumably) Elsa, Anna confronts grief in a whole new, and frankly very grown-up, way. The song she sings “Next Right Thing” has been my inspiration over the last few weeks and has truly helped me to deal with my grandma’s passing in a healthier way than I though possible.

If you haven’t seen Frozen 2 yet, GO WATCH IT! But in case you only have time right now to read this blog, I’ll explain. In “Next Right Thing,” Anna explores how deeply her grief is affecting her, and in the beginning she talks about not being able to breathe or stand up. But she knows that all she has to do is the next right thing. I watched a short docu-series of the making of Frozen 2 and when talking about this song, the Voice Actress for Anna, Kirsten Bell, said that this song came from her struggle with depression. She said some mornings all she can do is the next right thing, for example “Get out of bed.” Then she might “Walk to the Bathroom and brush teeth.” Breaking it down like this really helps her to move through her day and build momentum for herself.

I took this little piece of Disney Advice to heart and when things get hard, I remember to just do the next right thing. The first few days after my grandma passed, it was REALLY difficult to sleep, so of course in the morning, all I wanted to do was lay in bed and not move. But by thinking of this song I was able to get out of bed, drink my water, take my medicine, workout, take a shower, etc, etc, all day long. I will say that the longer the day went on, the easier it became and I didn’t have to intentionally say to myself “just the next right thing.” I was better at seeing more than one task in front of me.

I’m learning that Grief is never ending, and it’s hard. It’s taken me what seems like far too long to be able to finish this piece. I thought it would be easy to write about my grief but it turns out that it’s almost impossible. Confronting grief in this black and white, pen to paper way has been something I’ve been avoiding. But in the hopes that this helps someone else, I’m going to post it. I hope that you will forgive the spots where it’s rough and rocky, and that you will understand that it isn’t my best work. But it’s raw and real, and I hope it helps. I’ll write another part about this, but I need time. Part 2 will come when my heart can handle it. In the meantime,

All my Love,

Kyra

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