135/365 – Meditation Games #135 – Exploring Pain And Loss

Developer Credits: Claire Barilla, Brianna Fromont, Tom O’Brien

Launcher Quote“Lisa

Lisa is an explorative experience about the key moments that I associated with my sister’s suicide. These are my most vivid and difficult moments I often meditate on when I think about her, moments which, until now, I have kept to myself for the past decade.

She was born on the 21st of February 1995, and on the 10th of May 2009 she took her own life. She was 14, I was 16.

The Call

The day my dad received the call from my mom that she had found her body – we were just about the leave for school, he got the call, there was something in his tone and face and he turned to me and just said: “Lisa is dead”. He hunched over the counter listening to my mom’s panicked calls and I just sunk to the floor, the kitchen around me felt like it may swallow me whole.

The Night Before the Funeral

This is a night I still struggle with, my dad and I had driven 10 hours at 140 km/h to get to my mom, we had seen the body and made all of the funeral arrangements, my parents were still in shock. It was about 10 pm, the night before the funeral, some of my extended family had flown in from overseas and more had gathered at the house to greet them. They went on and drank merrily past midnight, with neither of my parents sleeping, both still reeling, all three of us in shock.

Their behaviour, it felt abhorrent, disgusting, and disrespectful. My dad came into the kitchen and asked them to keep it down, there was a funeral in a few hours. They scoffed and carried on, I was outside, smoking and drinking whiskey from a muf, then something snapped. I screamed profanities at my family told them their complete disregard for the suffering of others was the cause of this. This went on for a while and in a blur, eventially my dad and I left. I think we slept in the car that night.

This event is something I have written several letters to my sister apologising for, words she will never see. I still carry the guilt and shame of my family’s behaviour that night. I am still angry, furious at how little regard they had and how it was precisely this lack of empathy from our world that ultimately led to the mental health issues that caused her death, as well as my own adolescent depression and suicidal tendencies, mental health that I still manage today.”

Events that stick with us and can affect us are double-edged in nature. While there are some times that there are meaningful, impactful positive events in life that can be game-changing, the same is true for the most traumatic, negative, and painful events in our lives. While I think most people understand this, I think that there’s an underestimation sometimes about how deeply the bad events, especially if they involve family, can cut to the bone and can stay with people.

The first impression you get when reading both the launcher quote and then playing through the game is a sense of symbolism that reflects the significance of what happened. The way that the images are frozen in time, as if the grief and the anger were crystallized in a moment where they can be keenly felt, is the best way that the developer’s feelings and emotions were able to be conveyed, without being the ones to actually experience the event. In combining this with the lighting and the isolation of certain segments of each part of the exploration, you can understand why this is an event that stuck with the developer. Such awful moments that stick in the pit of your stomach tend to be replayed over and over again, set in still images or put on a loop like an old school VHS tape rewinding and playing.

That being said, the last image, as somber as it is with the spreading of ashes, is presented in a light of sorts, a kind of attempt to bring closure to what was no doubt a traumatic event in the developer’s life. While it hasn’t been entirely successful, I also think that it rarely is something that puts a bow on your life. On some level, the bad and traumatic events of our life are things that are merely dealt with and endured rather than entirely put away forever, especially if they have far-reaching consequences in the future, and it’s also an argument that mental health issues and how we cope with them shouldn’t carry stigma, but rather should be treated as if we were treating any other way we aren’t feeling up to par.

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