Losing a loved one is one of the hardest things to go through. After saying goodbye to my grandfather in June, I came to know this well, especially as I wasn't able to give him a proper sendoff in person. I grieved for days, but I was forced to get back into the daily grind as soon as humanly possible. Nothing brought me out of that dark hole except the hobby I hold near and dear to my heart: gaming.
Video games can be an escape from the outside world, our troubles, and our thoughts. But sometimes, they can offer healing powers that only this particular art form can provide. In my time of need, I called upon some of my favorite games to help me through the pain. These games were created to address and analyze the process of losing a loved one, or the situations surrounding loss. If you've recently experienced the same thing, try one of them out and see if their therapeutic powers can help you.
That Dragon, Cancer
Numinous Games' That Dragon, Cancer is a study on the Green family and their experiences while raising their young son Joel. Young Joel was diagnosed with terminal cancer at just 12 months old, and lived until age 4 when he passed away from the disease. The game is a celebration of Joel's life, created in the form of a point-and-click adventure title, allowing his parents Ryan and Amy to tell stories about living with Joel and the trials and tribulations of everyday life with him. It acted as something of a memorial to their child, and a beautiful lens through which to view their son's life, as short as it was, and how much they loved him during the time he was on earth. If you're dealing with a loved one with an illness, you may want to devote some time to the game.
The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit
In this prequel to the upcoming Life is Strange 2, we meet young Chris, who's dealing with the recent passing of his mother. Neither Chris nor his father are taking her passing well, and this standalone adventure game episode paints a simultaneously heartwarming and sobering portrait of life now that Chris's mother is gone. You slowly piece together the puzzle of the broken family without her around, which can be a comforting experience if you're trying to sort through loss of your own, and while it's not an uplifting experience in the least, it helps to remind you that there's hope even when everything seems bleak.
What Remains of Edith Finch
Giant Sparrow's mysterious walking simulator is a tale that revolves around "America's most unfortunate family," and as such, the multiple deaths that plagued every single member of the clan. A curse seems to have plagued the family for at least five generations, and you relive the various ways the family members met their untimely ends as narrated by the oldest daughter Edith Finch. Though the game is ultimately imperfect, it provides several different vignettes that make it a little easier, and a little less terrifying, to deal with death in an upfront and frank manner. It even allows for some laughter through all the heartbreak.
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons follows a young boy named Naiee, who's just lost his mother at sea. His older brother Naia informs him that his father has fallen ill, and the only way to save him is to embark on a dangerous journey to get the healing waters from the Tree of Life. It's a harrowing journey that keeps death and loss at its forefront, as their father could pass at any time, and they're still fresh from dealing with their mother's passing. It's a tale of strength, family, and never giving up, no matter the odds. It will provide you with your own fortifications when you feel you're on your last leg and can't go any further, which makes it a great play.
Apart of Me
Apart of Me is a unique game created with an important purpose: helping children learn how to grieve. It acts as a peaceful and safe virtual world with aims to assist young players deal with the gravity of loss and the idea that their loved ones are no longer with them. There are ways to interact with others and help them come to terms with their own grief as they go through the motions, as well as the emotions they may feel during their difficult time. Guided meditations, various thought exercises, and other helpful tools can be found in the app to aid in helping your child (or a young loved one that you know) get on track to healing and acceptance.