A Beautiful Metaphor for The Stages of Grief: Gris
Grief can be processed and expressed in a number of ways, as we have discussed many times on this blog. And while we all experience it in a wide variety of ways, there are some common experiences that are often shared by those that are grieving. Countless books, movies, and TV episodes attempt to capture what grief means, and how people express these emotions. But recently, I had the pleasure of experiencing an interpretation from a rather unlikely source, a video game. Gris, a game from indie developer Nomada Studios, explores the emotional experience of traversing the trials and tribulations of grief through a beautifully designed, watercolor-style, puzzle platformer.
Gris and The 5 Stages Of Grief
Gris, the main character in the game, is a young woman lost in her own sorrows after a painful experience. Her world is black and white, and only after working through the stages of grief is color brought back into her world. As Gris, you traverse incredibly evocative and varied landscapes as you work to bring color and life back into the world. From desolate deserts to the depths of the darkest oceans, you must explore manifestations of the stages of grief. Everything about this game, from the chapters of the game to the haunting soundtrack by artist Berlinist, evokes the 5 stages of grief.
A Crumbling Statue Motif
At the beginning of the game, there is a crumbling statue of the main character seen throughout the world. It makes an appearance throughout the story, in various states of deterioration, and eventually repair. This is a good representation of the character’s mental state as you navigate her grief.
Delicate and Deathless
One issue many video games have when trying to work through grief is death in the game. Gris is “an experience free of danger, frustration or death” according to the developer’s site. While there are some more intense moments, most of the game is a calming and serene experience.
Personal Growth and Grief in Gris
In addition to bringing color back to her world, Gris grows stronger as the game continues. Like most games, you unlock new abilities as you go through the game, but these abilities are akin to personal growth during grief. At the start of the game, the character feels helpless. Her grief makes her feel voiceless. She constantly drops to her knees in sadness. As you continue on, she develops abilities similar to coping mechanisms. As you near the end of the game, flowers bloom as the main character finds her voice. The stage of Acceptance is one of true healing and personal growth.
Working through Grief with Media
From watching your favorite movies to reading self-help books, there are plenty of ways to work through feelings of grief in a multi-media way. Gris is just one interpretation of how grief affects a person, but it is a beautiful and evocative experience. Overall, this is an excellent perspective into the stages of grief, and a wonderful game in general. For those of you looking to play this game, you can find it on Steam, Playstation, Nintendo Switch, and iOS platforms.
The author of this post is not a professional therapist or counselor. For assistance in finding a grief counselor that is right for you, there are a number of resources out there. For our Grief Resource center, written by Dr. Bill Webster, click here.
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