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 and the co-editor of the nonfiction anthology Body Language. He is also the executive editor of Catapult magazine and was previously the founding editor of BuzzFeed Philippines. He has received fellowships from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and MacDowell; has taught workshops for Kundiman, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and PEN America; and has written for Esquire, Vogue, Condé Nast Traveler, Out magazine, and BuzzFeed News, among others. He is a graduate of Vassar College, which means he now lives in Brooklyn.