How Disney’s ‘Frozen II’ Changed My Life


Frozen III is coming and my heart is so happy. I’m a bit old for Frozen Fever. I enjoyed the first one but walked away from it unmoved. The second one though, that film rocked my world, shook me to my core, and changed me forever. This means Frozen III will have some very big shoes to fill, Will it measure up? The news has me reflecting on the first time I saw Frozen II.

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In December of 2019, Popcorn in hand, my family and I settled in at the movie theater ready for Frozen II. We had just arrived at Walt Disney World for the week and were passing the time until our room was ready. I had read enough to know people left in tears so I was prepared for an emotional journey.


Credit: Jill Bivins

What I was not prepared for, however, was for this film to punch me in the gut and describe, with perfect precision, the worst period of my life. I emerged from the theater a bit shell-shocked, but inexplicably, in a good way— like I’d finally found the words for something I thought there were no words for. This movie, and one song in particular, changed me. That is something I never expected from an animated film.

The song was “The Next Right Thing” and later on social media I discovered I wasn’t alone. While others debated whether “Into the Unknown” or “Show Yourself” was the new “Let it Go”, anyone who has been intimately acquainted with grief came away proclaiming “The Next Right Thing” as the clear standout.

Related: The Backstory Behind this Classic Snow White Song Serves as a Timeless Reminder

Listening to this song put to words the worst moment of my life so very succinctly, in a movie theater at Disney Springs, was … surreal. Tears flowed, my heart raced, and I was absolutely captivated. The song continued and the longer it went, the mire I saw myself in it. The song wrapped me in a hug and described my grief and recovery cycle in a way that couldn’t have been more accurate if I had written it myself.

My daughter, Abigail, died when she was 5 months old. For a long time, a decade in fact, I’ve said there are no words to describe how that feels. Until that moment.


Credit: Disney

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
Hello, darkness, I’m ready to succumb

The months after my Abby died were dark and cold. Joy wasn’t even a consideration. No, I’d never feel joy again, I told myself. Survival was all I could hope for. Numb was the only thing I felt, if you can call numb a feeling.

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 was directionless and floating adrift through life- simply existing without purpose. Slowly, very slowly, a new normal began to take shape. No longer numb, but not exactly happy either. I began to question if life would in fact someday be good again. It seemed like maybe but I wasn’t sure.

“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 when it’s not you I’m rising for?
Just do the next right thing”
A niggle of hope that better days may indeed come was a welcome but terrifying prospect. How? What they never tell you about grief is the guilt you’ll feel when you begin to recover. That’s when the survival instincts you learn in the beginning come in handy. “Just do the next right thing.

“Take a step, step again
It is all that I can to do
The next right thing
Take a step, step again
It is all that I can to do
The next right thing
I won’t look too far ahead
It’s too much for me to take
But break it down to this next breath, this next step this next choice is one that I can make”
After my sweet Abby died, every day was a challenge. Making it through each day was a tiny victory, especially in the days following her loss. For me, I lived meal to meal. I couldn’t think in terms of months or weeks or even days. I had to just make it to the next meal. That was a short enough timespan that I could foresee continued existence

“So I’ll walk through this night
Stumbling blindly toward the light
And do the next right thing.
And, with the dawn, what comes then?
When it’s clear that everything will never be the same again
Then I’ll make the choice to hear that voice
And do the next right thing”
As time went on it became easier to bear. It was a weight I knew I was able to carry. Grief had become like a comfortable security blanket- it was something I was intimately familiar with. I just had to keep going. Keep moving. Things would be better. Eventually. And over time, they were. Days once again became bearable thoughts. Then entire weeks seemed possible. Now I look ahead to years. I am not the same person I was before she died. I wouldn’t recognize that version of myself if she were standing in front of me. That person died when Abigail died. I became a new thing entirely.


Credit: Disney

Some events in life blow in like an unexpected storm and shake you to the very core, taking a piece of you with them as they blow out. The hole it leaves behind is forever. Time marches on and eventually puts a fragile patch over the hole but that patch is easily ripped off. When that happens, raw emotions felt just as intensely as if the wound were fresh come flooding back.

That is what happened to me in that theater in early December. I cried. My chest heaved with the weight of it all and then suddenly the weight was released. I understood myself in a way I never had. A Disney movie did that. That is truly a work of art, a masterpiece even.

To be changed by or understand yourself better from art… isn’t that the point? I left that movie theater a different person than I walked in. I felt connected to a story in a way I never could have imagined, and I felt light and free.

Nothing will ever take away the pain, that is something I have learned to accept. That is forever a part of me, but one single song was able to lift me up in a way nothing else ever had. It allowed me to explore the depth of my experience and to tell me I wasn’t alone. For a song in an animated film to so accurately capture the essence of grief, it’s nothing short of stand out.

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Will Frozen III mean to me what Frozen II did? Doubtful. I hope, though, that Disney will use the film to give someone else that moment of clarity, of relief and understanding, that Frozen II gave to me.




About Jill Bivins

Jill Bivins has been visiting Disney Parks since she was 2 years old and loves sharing her Disney adventures with the world. She likes to say Disney is in her blood and writing is in her bones — so any time she has the opportunity to combine these loves she is one happy camper! She has a deep abiding love for Epcot and as a die hard Star Wars fan has a serious love for Hollywood Studios as well. When she isn't exploring or writing about Disney Parks, Jill is homeschooling her 8 year old son, playing with her brand new baby son, or pretending to be a farmer on her family homestead (despite being unable to keep even a cactus alive). Find Jill on Instagram @minnieonmain.