Cover Photo: A Polaroid-style photo collage of the author, Matt Ortile, taken across various  indoor and outdoor restaurant tables. Handwritten at the bottom of each photo is the number of days that have passed since his mother's death: 14 days later, 617 days later, 434 days later, and 311 days later.
Photographs courtesy of the author

How to Date While You’re Grieving

The point of dating is to get to know another person. It’s a process made more confusing when, in my grief, I’m getting reacquainted with myself.

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.


What would parenthood mean to you?Who wouldn’t be there? Who could fit into it?

I’m sorryI’m sorry for your loss

have you breathed today?

no longer

I’m sorry


I’m feeling overwhelmed. I’m sorry if I’m coming across as dead inside. If I cry suddenly at dinner, please know that it’s not totally without reason.Are you up for this?

Thank you, Matt, for holding space with me tonight as you grieve. we

FineLet this be my litmus test. Let my grief weed out the weak.

A Grief Observed

Would you like to walk together?

Inside the Actors StudioShe’s waiting for you.

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.