Magical Blogorail – Ways Disney helps deal with Grief

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Welcome to the first stop aboard Magical Blogorail Green. Enjoy our therapeutic ride as we share ways that Disney has helped us through times of grief and sorrow.

Over the past year, a lot of my friends have had loved ones pass away — and in way too many cases, it was young children that were called home.  In this week’s Magical Blogorail post, we are talking about ways that Walt Disney World (or the other Disney parks) have played a role in helping us deal with our grief and sorrow.

My Grandpa died just over three years ago at the young age of 98.  While my Grandpa wasn’t as big a Disney fanatic as I am, my Grandma and Grandpa were the ones that first took me (and my sister and Mom) to the Magic Kingdom, way back in 1979.  When I was in my pre-teen and teenage years, my summers were spent visiting Grandma and Grandpa (primarily Grandpa) during the summer vacation, and he and I spent many a day having fun and doing cool things together.  It may be hard to imagine, but as you can see by this picture, my Grandpa was cool.

My Grandpa sporting my Safari Mickey hat!

My Grandpa sporting my Safari Mickey hat!

Now that I am a dad and husband, I have played a similar role to the role that my Grandpa played — I introduced Walt Disney World to my wife Cindy in 2000, and together we introduced our daughter Sophie to Walt Disney World in 2005.  One day in the future, I can’t wait until the day when Cindy and I introduce our grandchild to Walt Disney World.  Only God knows when that will be, but if He is willing, it will happen.

In some ways, I always thought that my Grandpa and Walt Disney had a lot in common, and now in my family, I am doing some of the same things that those two great men have done.  My daughter Sophie and I are training for our first 5K together — the Princess 5K to be held February 19-22 of next year.  While we aren’t running for any specific person or for any cause or in honor of a loved one that passed away, we are forming a stronger bond because this is something that only we are doing.  My wife Cindy is involved, but she’s choosing to cheer us on at the finish.  She knows that the days are coming when Sophie will not want to spend much time with us, and she is giving Sophie and I this event, the 5K, as a way for us to continue our Daddy/Daughter relationship for a bit longer.  In my minds eye, I picture it as similar to what Walt did by taking his girls to Griffith Park to ride the carousel.

Of course, there are other 5K events — you don’t need to travel to Walt Disney World just to run in a 5K.  In fact, we are going to be doing the Walk for Hope in Raleigh on October 12th — and that’s a 10K walk (we’ll run some too).  That event benefits mental illness research and treatment, so if you would like to donate to it, you can do so by clicking on this donate link.  But the point I’m making is that we’re continuing our bonding by participating in an event at Walt Disney World — and in my opinion, Disney is the mechanism for us to keep our relationship close, even though she is a teenager.  While I haven’t relied on Disney as a truly therapeutic way to deal with the loss of a loved one in a physical sense, like my friend Beth did when she lost her nephew, or my dear friend Dawn did when she lost her father, or my friend Kuleen did when her friends lost their child, I have used my connection and love for Walt Disney World — and my daughter’s love for Disney, too — as a way to keep us close when so many families see their daughter or son drift apart from them.  Regardless of the setting, whether it is Disney or the beach or the mountains or whatever, use those memories and experiences as the means to keep your loved ones close, or to remember their memory if they have passed on.

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is In the Mouse House.

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

1st Stop ~ My Dreams of Disney – How Disney Helped My Grief
2nd Stop ~ In the Mouse House – Running in Honor of My Brother
3rd Stop ~ Heidi’s Head – How Disney helped with my illness
4th Stop ~ Saving Up for Disney – How Disney Helped after I lost my Father
Final Stop ~ Journeys from a Follower – How Disney Helped me through my own life challenge