‘Fragments of Him’ Shows Us the Ripples of Loss and Grief

When someone dies, their loss ripples out to their family, friends, and the wider community that knows them. We feel those ripples even when we lose near-strangers: a guild member, a streamer we like to watch, a journalist whose work we’ve read. Fragments of Him is a new game that explores those ripples, the way one man’s death affects all the people around him.

Polygon’s Allegra Frank played Fragments of Him during a particularly difficult time after the loss of an old friend. She shared her thoughts on the game and its impact on her own experience in a recent article:

I was in a completely different emotional space by the time I actually got my hands on the game, though. Playing through the short, dramatic game just weeks after Zach’s death had a powerful effect on me. The game embraces how exhausting and evolving grief can be. It removes any shame from talking about death through the lenses of those left behind.

Vulnerability is what defines Fragments of Him’s mannequin-like cast. The ease with which each character looks back at the moments they shared with Will, some painful, some unflattering, astonished me, even in my guarded state. As Sarah, Mary and Harry recounted their histories with Will, my throat began to close up and my breathing got heavy. I knew those feelings they talked about, I thought as I sat alone in the dark, watching the stories unfold. I knew the guilt and the anger and the complete confusion each character claimed to experience — they were what I was shying away from on a daily basis.

 

She goes on to explain how the game provided her with the opportunity for catharsis as she explored the way each character expressed their grief. It’s different for everyone, and every loss is unique–for Frank, Fragments of Him illustrated that just when she needed the reminder.

Grief can be particularly complicated when you’ve also dealt with mental health issues. Though they aren’t the same, grief and depression have similarities that can be hard to distinguish. HelpGuide has suggestions for how to identify the difference:

Distinguishing between grief and clinical depression isn’t always easy as they share many symptoms, but there are ways to tell the difference. Remember, grief can be a roller coaster. It involves a wide variety of emotions and a mix of good and bad days. Even when you’re in the middle of the grieving process, you will have moments of pleasure or happiness. With depression, on the other hand, the feelings of emptiness and despair are constant.

 

As HelpGuide recommends, if you start to feel like life isn’t worth living, like you should have died too, like it was all your fault, or you start to experience symptoms of clinical depression like extended periods of emotional numbness, you shouldn’t force yourself to get through it alone–therapists and grief counsellors are there to help you cope, not to force you to move on before you’re ready.

[Polygon, Fragments of Him]