Cover Photo: Screenshot via Nintendo
Screenshot via Nintendo

I Can’t Defeat My Grief, But I’m Learning to Carry It

In video games, dead parent storylines give a character depth. Their grief becomes a plot point, something to overcome.

This is Grief at a Distance, a column by Matt Ortile examining his grief over his mother’s death in the Philippines during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Pokémon Shield

i who have died am alive Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Three Houses

Three Houses

tick-tock

Three Houses

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Breath of the Wild

Pokémon Sapphire

Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity

depth

whohowwhenwhy

And at times, when the grief waxes, or blocks the path forward, I can choose to rest. As she once advised, I can indulge and play.

Ori and the Blind Forest. (

Pokémon LeafGreen

Matt Ortile is the author of the essay collection The Groom Will Keep His Name. He is also the executive editor of Catapult magazine, and writes regularly for Condé Nast Traveler. Previously, he was the founding editor of BuzzFeed Philippines. He is a MacDowell Fellow and has written for Vogue, Esquire, Out, Into, and BuzzFeed News, among others. He is a graduate of Vassar College, which means he now lives in Brooklyn. You can find more of his work on mattortile.com and on Twitter @ortile.