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


Three Houses

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Breath of the Wild

Pokémon Sapphire

Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity



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 managing editor of Catapult magazine, and a contributing writer at Condé Nast Traveler. Previously, he was the founding editor of BuzzFeed Philippines. He is a MacDowell Fellow and has written for Vogue, Self, Out, 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 and on Twitter @ortile.