If you mention virtual reality (VR) to someone, they’re bound to think of just video games or interactive museum tours. However, VR is much more powerful than just that. It might have the power to help people overcome grief and fight loneliness by reuniting people with their departed loved ones… or it can prolong the mourning process altogether.

A South Korean TV documentary called ‘I Met You’ did just that. The show, by Korean broadcast company MBC, helped reunite 51-year-old Kim Jung-soo with his wife 4 years after she passed away and it is heartbreaking to watch.

The amount of work that goes into these projects is immense. According to MBC, it took 6 months to prepare everything to make the couple’s reunion as realistic as possible. Have a glimpse at the emotional reunion below, dear Readers. Bored Panda has written about this documentary series before. You can find our post about a grieving mother reuniting with her daughter who she lost in an illness right here. It’s a controversial topic with good arguments for against using VR like this. Be sure to share your thoughts about the topic in the comment section below.

Catherine Gallacher from Glasgow, who is a member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, explained to Bored Panda that there are a lot of considerations we need to take into account when wondering whether or not VR can help a particular individual deal with the loss of a loved one. However, at the end of the day, we need to fully accept that our loved ones have passed on so we can move on with our lives. Read on for Gallacher’s insights about the grieving process and how VR can fit into this, as well as what the potential dangers of it are.

If you’re in the UK and you’re dealing with the loss of a beloved family member or friend, you can reach out to a BACP bereavement counselor. They can help you understand your complex and painful emotions, as well as integrate the feelings of loss into your life and support you as you adapt to life without your loved one.

A Korean father of 5 reunited with his departed wife in VR. You can see their heartbreaking reunion in the video right here

“What is the purpose of the VR model for that individual? Is it to remember the loved one as they cannot access the memories of what they look like now? If an individual has accepted death this is different to a person wanting to use VR to immerse into an unhealthy experience,” BACP counselor Gallacher pointed out to Bored Panda that VR can play very different roles depending on who uses it to see their departed loved ones.

“Of course the reality is that it’s not real life and when vulnerable the danger of this is being stuck in grief,” she warned. “In today’s world of prolonging and the wish to create the impossible, the reality of grief is that this has a finality we need to accept loss is to be able to fully live our life.

Kim’s biggest wish was to see his wife one last time, even if just for a moment

Image credits: MBClife

It took half a year to prepare the meeting which involved getting the movements of Kim’s wife just right and mixing her voice with an actress’ to make it realistic

Image credits: MBClife

Image credits: MBClife

Image credits: MBClife

Image credits: MBClife

According to Gallacher, the 5 stages of grief that we’re used to seeing in popular culture are accurate because we experience emotions while mourning as a process. However, everyone is an individual who has unique experiences which means that we all take different amounts of time to go through each stage. What’s more, some people can even revisit these stages.

“We need to go through the 5 stages to resolve grief healthily, otherwise it becomes unresolved grief, and intervention is recommended by a professional. Acceptance is not saying the loss is okay, it’s saying we’re learning to live without that person in our life,” Gallacher said.

We all deal with grief and different losses uniquely. However, this doesn’t mean that we can’t reach out to loved ones who are in the middle of the mourning process and support them. “Simply being available to listen even if the person is then silent, just be there so they don’t feel alone. Give your time, be patient, as grief has no timescale. When someone dies, we will miss this person the rest of our lives, but in time, we accept they are not with us.”

The man’s wife passed away 4 years ago after a long and serious illness

Image credits: MBClife

Image credits: MBClife

The reunion was very emotional. The couple waltzed together and the husband thanked his wife for loving him

Image credits: MBClife

Image credits: MBClife

Image credits: MBClife

Kim’s children couldn’t hold back their tears when they saw their dad interacting with their departed mom

Image credits: MBClife

Image credits: MBClife

Image credits: MBClife

Kim’s wife passed away after years of fighting a severe illness and left him to take care of their 5 children. The loving husband’s biggest wish was to see his wife again, “even just a shadow, one more time.”

The reunion, however, nearly didn’t happen because some of Kim’s children were against the idea of using VR to recreate their mother’s likeness: her death was too painful for them to bear and they wanted their father to move on with his life. Eventually, they relented.

“He would kiss her from time to time when working, when eating, or when watching TV. Even when my mother was sick and lost her hair, my father would say that she was pretty and carried her around,” Kim’s daughter Jong-yun said about the loving relationship between her parents.

Kim asked his wife if she wasn’t in pain anymore when he met her likeness in VR. When they heard this, his children, who were watching everything, teared up.

The YouTube video highlighting the most emotional parts of Kim’s story got over a million views and, in truth, it’s heartbreaking to watch for anyone who’s ever lost a loved one.

The story (and the entire documentary series) is very powerful and extremely dedicated to recreating people’s departed loved ones as accurately as possible. MBC had to recreate Kim’s wife’s movements and they also combined her voice with an actor’s to make her sound lifelike.

Dear Pandas, let us know if you teared up just like us and if you’d consider using technology to see and hear your loved ones again.

People had very strong opinions about using VR like this: some thought it was beautiful while others thought it prevented people from moving on