Grief in Frozen II – Let’s Talk About It!
THIS HAS FROZEN II SPOILERS.
Also, I am a HUGE Disney fan and thought this movie was one of the best they’ve done (with the exception of Pixar movies).
Therefore, I already have a slight bias and think the movie was amazingly paced with phenomenal storytelling.
However, the purpose of this blog post is to talk about how they worked grief in Frozen II.
Grief is an element in most movies.
Especially in Disney and Pixar movies…
Yet, we still have a problem talking about it, and I think we should.
With the exception of Inside Out, in my opinion, Frozen II is the first Disney movie that proactively talks about grief in a really important way.
I’m no movie buff, so I’m sure there are other movies that have done this, but this is the first movie I’ve personally seen that actively uses the word grief.
To say it out loud.
To acknowledge that it is a feeling.
Frozen II does this in a song, but it’s a strong and powerful one.
The movie assembles three losses wrapped into the life experience of a single character, Anna.
Grief in Frozen II flows naturally throughout the entire movie, but I want to highlight the themes of grief that Anna experiences before and after the additional losses Anna goes through.
Anna’s Grief Themes Before Her Additional Loss
Leading up to Anna’s two new losses, her and her sister Elsa carry the grief from the death of their parents 6 years ago when they were lost at sea.
Since then, it’s clear that while both of them have suffered through their grief, they’ve manifested in different ways.
Here, I specifically want to highlight the way this grief has manifested in Anna.
There are three important themes that Anna carries in relation to her first loss of her parents.
1. She is obsessive over her sister
Constantly and consistently throughout the movie Anna is overcome by her sister.
Where is she?
What is she doing?
Is she safe?
I have to find her.
I have to talk to her.
I have to make her feel better.
After they both lose their parents, Elsa is all Anna has left.
Particularly all the FAMILY she has left.
Her obsessiveness blinds her from everything around her.
This easily happens to grievers.
Consumed by fear of an additional loss, we can obsess over the person we love the most whom is still living.
Or, even more frequently in long lasting grief, we obsess over the deceased and are blind to our new life without them.
Instead, thoughts about our loved one that died consumes our mind and takes over our hearts, not allowing us to live our current life and keeping us in a weird state that is neither past nor present, but rather in a type of parallel universe where we convince ourselves that the person we lost is still with us somehow.
When I was in my deepest depth of grief, I definitely had this parallel universe in my mind…
Instead of obsessing over someone living, I obsessed over my mom and her death.
It was like a bad movie on repeat that I couldn’t escape until I went through my grief recovery program.
(Now I’m happily living in the present and enjoying every moment.)
2. She is consumed by the fear of losing her sister
Lead by Anna’s obsession, the fear of losing Elsa overpowers everything.
After an awkward childhood of her sister hiding her power, and the fact that they were not the best friends they once were…
The thought of Elsa putting herself in danger (and potentially dying in the process), overcomes Anna with constant fear now that they are best friends again.
Grievers are frequently consumed by fear after loss.
A lot of different forms of anxiety manifest themselves in us.
Even though death is inevitable and a “natural” occurrence in life, it doesn’t make sense.
Our brains cannot wrap our head around WHY.
We feel a loss of safety and control in our lives after the death of a loved one, which drastically increases our anxiety and fear.
I can empathize with the fear of losing another loved one (especially now that I have two kids), but in my early grief this actually manifested a bit differently for me.
I was so petrified of loss that my emotional walls were up 100% of the time.
I didn’t allow myself to feel love at all, and I purposefully didn’t make or build new friendships because I didn’t want to risk the chance of having more people walk in and out of my life.
(This too has changed for me. I’ve welcomed many new friends into my life, and while the fear of loss is still there, it’s a much smaller fear that doesn’t consume me anymore.)
3. She is intensely overprotective of her sister
This too is lead by Anna’s obsession and fear of losing her sister.
Because of these two things, she becomes insanely overprotective.
It’s almost to the point where Elsa can’t be herself around Anna because Anna wants to be able to control the situation at all times.
To make sure that nothing ever happens to either of their lives.
To make sure that their relationship doesn’t change.
To make sure that they are always together.
There isn’t much more for me to say here because the action of being overprotective is a direct reaction to obsession and fear.
Grief causes us to do things in extremes.
Anna’s Grief Themes After Her Additional Loss
Anna carries a new grief in addition to her first parental loss…
The loss of Olaf, and the loss of her sister.
When Anna finally realizes that Elsa “sacrificed” her life to do “the next right thing” she is overcome by grief in a brand new way.
She has followed and admired her sister her whole life.
We see this heavily in both movies.
Elsa is her life.
Her reason to live.
This becomes immensely clear in Anna’s song, “The Next Right Thing.”
In the first and second versus of the song she sings:
“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 lights are out
I’m ready to succumb
I follow you around
I always have
But you’ve gone to a place I cannot find
This grief has a gravity
It pulls me down
But a tiny voice whispers in my mind
“You are lost, hope is gone
But you must go on
And do the next right thing”
(I recommend listening to the whole song to really uncover the depth of grief in Frozen II. I’ve only listed two versus above. You can listen and/or read the rest here.)
There are two “themes” I wanted to highlight in this second flood of grief.
The first theme is early grief.
Early grief is what no one talks about.
It’s what so many of us are so uncomfortable with.
It’s an emotional experience that is all consuming.
It’s also intensely unique to each and every one of us.
It’s only in the deepest darkest and heaviest flood of grief of someone you hold so deer that you feel this.
These words could not be more true to anyone that has suffered a loss of someone they love so much.
I reflected on the death of my mom in those first two verse of the song and thought…
Anna stole the words out of my mouth.
I couldn’t agree more.
This is very much like what I felt when my mom died.
I think that a lot of you empathize with this as well.
The second theme is storytelling.
In so many words, Anna told her grief story in this song.
She told us how she felt.
She told us she was ready to succumb to the darkness.
She told us grief had a gravity that pulled her down.
But most importantly, she told us we are not alone.
I can not even begin to put into words how important story telling is and how much it helps us work through our own grief.
We are a community, but our culture has silenced us because grief is such an uncomfortable topic and it’s nice to see the topic of grief in Frozen II.
The more we share our stories, the more powerful our voices can become in lifting each other up and overcoming our grief together.
Over Grief is here for you!
Do you want to chat about your grief journey and start to take over your grief?