DIS & Dreams Event - Disneyland Resort in California
August 4 - 5, 2023

How Disney Helped Me Cope Through Grief

My journey to become the Disney-obsessed fan that I am today took a different path than many other Disney aficionados. Sure, I went to Disney as a child, but it was not a huge part of my childhood. We went a couple times over my first 18 years of life, but we were in no way a “Disney family.” My journey to reach the point where I find myself truly invested in all things Disney started when my father passed away in 2019.

In 2018, my husband and I took our kids, then 2 and 6, to Disney on what we were calling a “one time trip.” The trip was a lot of fun and we left knowing we’d go back, but figured it would be in a few years when the kids were a little older. We had no sense of urgency to return.

Fast forward to February 2019, and my father passed away unexpectedly. Struggling with the grief of his passing, I turned to my husband and said, “I want to go back to Disney. And soon. I need to focus on something happier than this.”

Now, this reaction was nothing short of an out-of-body response to the situation. As I mentioned, we were not “Disney People” at this point in our lives. However, in my deepest sadness, I subconsciously decided I needed to return to where I had been most happy in recent years, and unbeknownst to me, that was Disney.

You see, what makes Disney unique, and what triggered this urgent need to return, is the amount of immersive planning that can go into any trip. If you choose to, you can spend hours upon hours reading articles about Disney, watching YouTube channels, reading blogs, following accounts on Instagram… truly an endless array of opportunities for research. This research can allow you to be part of the Disney world, without actually being in Disney World. It can allow you to escape your own reality, even if you are in New Jersey and nowhere near WDW.

At night, when my workday was done, and the kids were in bed, was usually the time where my sadness would be overwhelming and my thoughts would cycle. At that time, I’d dig into my favorite planning tools and focus on what brought me joy. It was somewhere in this process that I changed over from a run-of-the-mill Disney visitor, to someone who would begin to understand what all this Disney buzz was all about.

When we went to Disney in April 2019, we were no longer the casual visitors. We were hooked. I can remember the exact moment when I realized Disney was going to be a “thing” for our family. It was our last night before our flights home and we were in the Magic Kingdom for dinner at Tony’s. The sun was setting, and I was exhausted. I suggested we go back to our resort and call it quits, but my husband looked up Main Street and said, “I think we should get every last minute out of this day…” I knew then, seeing that he too saw the magic, that our family was forever changed. The magic of Disney had helped me to get through my darkest times, and through that, brought our family some of our brightest memories.

Hi there! My name is Stephanie and I am a mom to 2 young Disney fans, wife to a rope-drop-to-fireworks fanatic, a teacher, an avid reader, and a Disney-obsessed super fan! Writing and Disney are two of my greatest hobbies, so putting them together is a dream come true.


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