The Mourning After

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"The First Mourning" by William-Adolphe Bouguereau

I am stretched on your grave and will lie there forever
If your hands were in mine, I'd be sure we'd not sever
Oh, the priests and the friars approach me in dread

For I love you still, my wife, and you're dead
Táim shínte ar do h'uaighh (traditional Irish poem)

Bob once loved Alice. How far this relationship went, whether Alice knew how Bob felt, how happy a couple they actually were (if they were a couple) are all unimportant.

Alice dies. (Or gets married to someone else, although this isn't as common a version as it used to be.) The point is that the possibility of a relationship between Bob and Alice is over.

Bob will never get over it, will never find a new girl no matter who shows up. Alice was the one for him, and if anyone says he "loved" Alice, he will waste no time correcting their tenses.

Often used as a Dead Little Sister. Done poorly, can result in Stalker with a Crush tendencies. This old love may not hold up if a Manic Pixie Dream Girl appears.

Often invoked in I Will Wait for You to confirm that the love really is that steadfast.

Inverse of Second Love. Contrast You Have Waited Long Enough, Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder. Not to be confused with The Murder After.

Examples of The Mourning After include:

Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Sesshomaru does this for Kagura in Inuyasha - while he does not cry, he attacks Moroyumaru so viciously that he breaks his sword Tokijin with the force of the blow, putting his own life in danger in the process. More notably, afterwards Totosai approaches him, saying that Tenseiga called out to him because of a change in Sesshomaru's heart (and Sesshomaru immediately thinks of Kagura). When he receives the finished sword, he thinks of her again and accepts it because "whether her death was in vain or not is for me to decide".
  • Part of the primary concept of the manga We Were There, although the relationship between Yano and his dead girlfriend Nana was more complex than it first appears.
  • In Maison Ikkoku, a major problem preventing Godai (and the other suitors) from pursuing Kyoko is that Kyoko feels this way about her first husband.
  • A darker version in Neon Genesis Evangelion, Gendo Ikari is quite willing to commit planetary genocide in order to reunite himself with his dead wife.
  • In Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann Simon vows to never forget his late wife, Nia, and in Lagann-hen he spends the rest of his life Walking the Earth in order to fulfill her last wish to make the world bloom with flowers.
    • Yoko also goes through this with Kamina. With the possible exception of forgiving Kittan for stealing a Last Kiss from her and tenderly hugging him goodbye just before his Heroic Sacrifice, she neither loved another man after Kamina's death, nor stopped loving him.
  • In one Ranma ½|Ranma ½ Manga arc Soun Tendo, in one of the few times that he is allowed to show any depth of character, is revealed to be deeply devoted to his dead wife.
  • In Rumbling Hearts when a character goes into a coma. They don't show the mourning until after they showed him fully recover, though...
  • Neviril from Simoun is a victim of this after her lover Amuria dies, which plays a big role in her refusal to pilot a Simoun with Aeru (aside from the fact that Aeru is also quite pushy). In the Distant Finale, it's revealed that this also happened to Rodoreamon, with regards to Mamiina.
  • In Twin Spica, Asumi's teacher Yuuko is like that after her boyfriend Takano dies aboard the exploding rocket which also caused the death of Asumi's mother. After several years of mourning she decides to go on and then finds someone else to marry pretty quickly. Sadly she never realized that all this time Takano had been roaming the town as a ghost named "Lion-san."
  • 5 Centimeters Per Second combines this with Unlucky Childhood Friend, to heartbreaking effect.
  • Van of Gun X Sword is still "head over heels in love" with his murdered fiancee, Elena, three years after her death, and isn't interested in other women. However, the final episode hints that he may be moving on to Second Love.
  • Mashiro's Uncle in Bakuman。 is this for a girl he fell in love with during his school years. Your Mileage May Vary on whether this is truly an effective bit of Character Development or just something that makes the man come across as hopelessly pathetic.
    • In his case, while his correspondence with her never got any further than that due to their inability to tell each other how they felt, he believes that he got this far because she served as his inspiration, as he hoped to become a success before telling her how he felt, and he believes (correctly, as it turns out) that she's still watching him.
  • Strawberry Panic: How Shizuma lives after Kaori dies.
  • Fujitaka in Cardcaptor Sakura, who never stops loving his dead wife Nadeshiko.
  • This mixed with Love Makes You Evil is the driving force behind Kaname Tousen's motives in Bleach.
  • After Rei Asaka's death in Oniisama e..., everyone grieves her intensely. In regards to her Love Interests, Nanako spends at least two episodes in an Heroic BSOD and her POV is constantly tinted with sadness afterwards, whereas Fukiko decides to never ever fall in love again, half due to this and half due to her crush Takehiko getting back together with his girlfriend, Rei's best friend Kaoru.
  • A mild example from Tiger and Bunny. Even years after his beloved wife Tomoe's death, Kotetsu still wears his wedding ring and is completely unaware that one of his female teammates has an enormous crush on him. He also keeps a portrait of Tomoe, which he occasionally confides in and visits her grave whenever he can.
  • In Claudine, Rosemarie never stopped loving and caring for Claudine after his death and the last few panels of the manga shows her visiting his grave in the snow.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Elongated Man's wife dies in Identity Crisis, and he spends the rest of his rather short life mourning her.
  • Many superheroes have this as their defining tragedy. The Punisher never gets over the murder of his wife and children (no matter how many criminals he kills). Green Lantern John Stewart claims he'll never fall in love again after the death of his wife Katma Tui. Etc.


Film[edit | hide]

  • In the Bollywood movie Mohabbatein the hero's girlfriend killed herself because they couldn't be together. A decade later, the hero is still in love with her and can "see" her whenever he closes his eyes...
  • Robin Williams' character Sean from Good Will Hunting.

Sean: Maybe *you're* perfect right now. Maybe you don't wanna ruin that. I think that's a super philosophy, Will; that way you can go through your entire life without ever having to really know anybody...
Will: ...You ever think about gettin' remarried?
Sean: My wife's dead.
Will: Hence the word: remarried.
Sean: She's dead.
Will: Yeah; well, I think that's a super philosophy, Sean. I mean, that way you could actually go through the rest of your life without ever really knowing anybody.
Sean: Time's up.

"Yeah my wife's gone. But she ain't, you know, gone."


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Tywin Lannister from A Song of Ice and Fire is hardened by his wife Joanna's death to the extent that he never smiles again, and treats Tyrion (whose birth caused Joanna's death) like absolute shit.
    • Also King Robert Baratheon, who never stopped loving Lyanna. Even when he married Tywin's daughter Cersei, he called her "Lyanna" in bed on their wedding night. Unsurprisingly this caused a lot tension between them.
  • In the Chivalric Romance Floris and Blanchefleur, Floris is told that Blanchefleur is dead; it grieves him but does not shake his love.
  • Pretty much Dante Aligheri's whole body of work but especially the Divine Comedy is built around one of these. Not Truth in Television only because he seems to have confined it to his literary side.
  • Clive Cussler's The Mediterranean Caper. Teri von Till feels this way about her long-dead husband, to the point of depression. Dirk Pitt tries to convince her to move on with her life.
  • In Mercedes Lackey's Heralds of Valdemar series (and other series set in the same universe), lifebonds are like this.
  • In the Liaden Universe (by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller), Liaden lifemate marriages do not provide for divorce nor allow remarriage, even after a spouse's death.
    • And true lifemating can often lead to the nondeceased soon following the deceased party into death.
  • The Time Traveler's Wife. Clare never gets over Henry, doesn't remarry, just waits around to see him one last time when she's 80.
    • Henry's father goes to pieces after the death of his mother and drinks himself to infirmity.
  • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, there was the Medstar Duology by Michael Reaves and Steve Perry, a pair of books taking place during the Clone Wars and featuring several just-off-the-battlefield surgeons and a Jedi healer, among others. The Jedi healer made friends with several other mains, and died not more than a few years after those books. Twenty in-universe years later on the Death Star (in a novel called Death Star), it turns out that one of those surgeons, having been coerced into continuous service is still around and was very attached to that Jedi. He does state that he doesn't know if it was love or not, but he thinks of her often, particularly when trying to navigate ethical dilemmas.
    • This is also how General Grievous gets his name his co-general as kill during a battle.
  • In Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, it turns out Severus Snape was Lily Evans's Unlucky Childhood Friend, and the guilt and grief he felt over her death ( which he partially caused, during his time as a Death Eater) motivated him for the rest of his life.
  • Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events: Lemony and the first Beatrice.
  • Nicolas Spark's A Walk to Remember IS this trope. Landon and Jamie fall in love and get married at age 17 because Jamie's dying of incurable leukemia. Decades and decades later, Landon has not considered anybody else, once, and has not taken off his wedding ring.
  • Though he never treated her all that well when he was alive, Amelia in Vanity Fair mourns her dead husband George for years, ignoring the feelings of another suitor and eventually driving him away. It isn't until Becky tells her that George had been planning to run away with her (Becky, that is) just before he died that Amelia finally gets over him.
  • Aegnor and Andreth in JRR Tolkien's Middle-earth mythos. Aegnor, an elf, and Andreth, a mortal woman, fell in love, but Aegnor pretended not to return her affections because he believed love between elf and mortal could not work out. Andreth was bitter over this, until Aegnor's brother Finrod revealed to her that Aegnor had vowed that he would never marry because he could never love anyone else.
  • A really tragic example (though without a death) is John Eames and Lily Dale from Anthony Trollope's Barsetshire novels. She falls in love with a cad who abandons her so he can marry a rich girl. She decides to remain perpetually single, and Eames, who loves her, also remains single for her sake.
  • In the novel Back to the Moon, Jack is hesitant in his budding relationship with Penny because he is still mourning his dead wife Kate. In fact, his entire reason for doing anything in the story is out of loyalty/guilt over what happened to Kate.
  • In Charles Dickens's Great Expectations, Miss Havisham became a hermit in her own home after being betrayed and jilted by Compeyson, remaining dressed in her wedding dress with the clocks stopped at the time she was betrayed, and the rotten wedding feast in place.
  • Heathcliff for Cathy in Wuthering Heights, to the point where he even digs up her body YEARS after the fact. For some it's romantic, for others...it's just Squick.
  • In Shadows of the Apt, Tisamon. Even though he thought she betrayed all of them. Some time after he learns they had a child -- once he calmed down -- he gives her a sword he had intended for her mother and had been carrying around for seventeen years.
  • In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero's Daughter, Eramus is still in mourning for his first wife. So much that when she came back, he kept rejecting her. Cruelly.
  • In the novels, part of the reason why James Bond's Girl of the Week relationships last so briefly is that one woman he truly loved (in Casino Royale) - Vesper Lynd - was a traitor, who proceeded to kill herself. When he opened up to Tracy Vincenzo in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, the Cartwright Curse struck, turning him into a total wreck.
  • In Warrior Cats, Fireheart has a crush on Spottedleaf. The two never talked about having a relationship while she was alive, but after she dies, he mourns her for a long time. Whenever he sees her in his dreams, it's mentioned that he always feels the pain of her death as if she's just died. It's only after seasons later, when other cats tell him to open his eyes up to the present - and Spottedleaf herself visits him in his dreams and gives her blessing for him to have another relationship - that he falls in love with Sandstorm.
  • In The Hunger Games, Katniss's mother goes into a near-catatonic depression after the death of Katniss's father, leaving Katniss to support the family. Even when the mother becomes functional again, she never really gets over his death.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. Hercules felt this way about his wife, who had been murdered by Hera. In one episode he politely turned down the proposition of a band of Amazons, saying he was still in love with his wife.
  • In New Tricks, Jack is still very much in love with his wife who died 9 years ago, and when asked about a woman who was showing an interest in him, simply replied "I'm married."
  • Monk is still married. His wife is dead, but he's still married. Absolutely.
    • So is Patrick Jane of The Mentalist.
      • Though in Jane's case, it's worth noting that there have been other women whom he's met after his wife that he's shown to have feelings for. Sadly, none of these have gone well so far.
  • This is implied for William Adama after Laura Roslin died in the Battlestar Galactica Reimagined finale.
  • The father in the TV version of 10 Things I Hate About You continues to wear his wedding ring after he is widowed, and claims to be married when a woman flirts with him. (Though he does later go on an enjoyable date with this woman.
  • Babylon 5: "Every morning for as long as she lived, Delenn got up before dawn and watched the sun come up."
  • On ER, we never see Elizabeth Corday show a hint of interest in anyone else after Mark Greene dies.

Elizabeth: I'm not afraid of being with him - I'm afraid of being without him.

  • In the Doctor Who episode "The Impossible Astronaut", River Song says that her worst fear is having to do this after the Doctor no longer knows her (because of the Timey-Wimey Ball their relationship is happening roughly in reverse for each of them, she knows the Doctor more after each visit, but he knows her less because she's meeting him earlier in his timeline). This makes her first(last?) appearance and Heroic Sacrifice in "Forest of the Dead" all the more poignant.
  • That Mitchell and Webb Look manages to invert this with a man who's constantly brooding on what his second wife is going to be like, much to the distress of his current wife.


Music[edit | hide]

  • A lot of Kamelot songs are about this trope, for instance the album Epica features a love story which ends with the subject of the singer's love songs early in the album committing suicide, and the singer/main character of the songs goes into a deep mourning, which even spills over into their next album.
    • Worth noting that one of their songs is even titled "The Mourning After."
  • Ludo's Broken Bride album is all about this.
  • Fairly common in folk music, both classical and neo. Just off the top of my head there's The Resurrected Lover, Lover's Last Chance, The Long Black Veil, Steer By The Stars, When I Sing About You.
  • He Stopped Loving Her Today, possibly the greatest Country Music song ever, was about a man pining after his lost love until he dies.
  • "Baby's In Black" by The Beatles. possibly written about pre-fame member, the late Stu Sutcliffe's mourning girlfriend in Germany, Astrid Kircherr.
  • Debbie Gibson - "Foolish Beat". The refrain "I could never love again.." says it all.
  • "I Never Knew" by Deborah Cox:

'Cause I know, I'll never love this way again

  • Another non-death example: "Crying" by Roy Orbison. "From now on, I'll be crying over you".

Theater[edit | hide]


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Aribeth in Neverwinter Nights is driven insane by this trope and becomes extremely susceptible to mind control.
  • If you pursue the Romance Sidequest in Dragon Age: Origins and die in the end game, the epilogue reveals that all your potential Love Interests have an extremely hard time getting over you, but Zevran in particular is said to have never loved anyone again in his life.
  • Subverted as far back as Final Fantasy II: A dying prince ends his Will They or Won't They? situation with a princess by coughing a "tell her that I love her" at the party, but then realizes that she would follow this trope and tying her to a dead man would be nothing but selfishness. He forbids the party from saying anything, and they obey, even though the princess is expecting word. It's implied that the princess ends up with his brother.
  • In Final Fantasy VII and Dirge of Cerberus, Vincent is living this way because of Lucrecia, spending long hours in the cave where she had sealed herself inside a crystal and Talking to Himself.
  • In Advent Children, it appears that Cloud is suffering from this over Aerith's death. Avoiding his friends and keeping to himself, moving into the abandoned church where she used to spend her time, going around with her ribbon tied to his arm concealed under his clothes, and constantly envisioning himself talking to her. In the end, though it appears he has found a measure of peace and is able to let go. Then again, finding out that she and her old boyfriend Zack were Together in Death may have helped.
  • Zihark of Fire Emblem Tellius outright admits that he probably won't ever fall in love with another woman after he broke up with his laguz girlfriend. True to his words, he later turns down Meg's marriage proposal, and pretty much stays single for the entirety of Path of Radiance and its sequel.
    • Also Prince Kurth from Fire Emblem Jugdral, who refuses to marry despite all the nagging from his people after he falls for a married woman (Lady Cigyun of Velthomer), makes her his lover, and she disappears after the whole deal blows up in their faces and her husband Viktor is Spurned Into Suicide.
  • James Sunderland of Silent Hill 2 represents a disturbing variant of this archetype. Not only will he never get over his love for his dead wife Mary, it is implied that his obsession with their relationship and her memory leads him the recreate the world around him in her image, even to the extent of possibly recreating Mary herself. The entire story arc of the game revolves around James coming to terms (or not) with his inability to forget Mary, and the events leading to her death.


Visual Novels[edit | hide]

  • Godot, aka Diego Armando of Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations is one of these—the game doesn't actually discuss whether he'd have another girlfriend, but his attitude about Mia's death, and the lengths he'd go to "avenge" her make him definitely appear to be one of these. Interestingly enough, both of them might have fitted this trope (while she was alive, he went into a coma, not to wake up until she died) but she was of the more well-adjusted variety if she fit this trope at all.
  • In Fate/stay night Heaven's Feel Normal End has a depressing example that flashes through the rest of Sakura's life in Shirou's home after he dies at the end of the Grail War, constantly waiting for him to come home.
  • In Clannad there are multiple cases of this depending on the route but the most famous is when Tomoya's wife, Nagisa, dies in childbirth.


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Joanna the Mad - Queen of Castile - for her husband, Philip the Handsome. She took to carrying his coffin around with her and sleeping with it. Her grandson, Carlos I of Castile (Charles V Holy Roman Emperor) played this up a little when assuming rule on her behalf. She clearly had a screw loose, in addition to being a woman - two major handicaps for any sixteenth century would-be monarch.
  • Queen Victoria of Great Britain remained in mourning for Prince Albert for the rest of her (long) life.
  • There are some people who genuinely consider the death of a spouse to be very different from the dissolution of marriage; most people, however, consider the death of a spouse to be akin to a forced dissolution of their marriage.
  • Princess Nino Chavchavadze, after her husband died ridiculously soon after their marriage.
  • Sir Patrick Moore. His fiancée was killed in 1943 when a bomb hit the ambulance she was driving.

"That was it. There was no one else for me. Second best is no good for me. I would have liked a wife and family, but it was not to be."

  • James Buchanan, the only U.S. president to never marry, after his fiancée Ann Caroline Coleman's death. "Marry I could not, for my affections were buried in the grave." He seems to have eventually had romances and even reconsider his position on marriage, but never actually went through with it.
  • Man recreates dead lover as a sex doll.
  • Princess Helena of Wittelsbach, older sister of the famous Elisabeth of Wittelsbach aka Sisi, remained unmarried after the death of her husband Maximilian of Thurn-and-Taxis, refusing other possible engagements and focusing on helping manage the Thurn-und-Taxis family business and philantrophy instead.
    • After the tragic murder of Sisi, it's said that her hubby Franz Josef felt similarly, despite how unstable their marriage was; in her memoirs, his relative Princess Zita from the Habsburg clan wrote that she heard him say "nobody will ever know how much I loved Sisi".
  • Another Lizzie here: Saint Elisabeth of Hungary, said to have gone into a huge Heroic BSOD once she learnt that her husband and Victorious Childhood Friend Margrave Ludwig of Thuringia had died in the Crusades, repeating a Madness Mantra by the lines of "He is dead. He is dead. It is to me as if the whole world died today!". She then went Rebellious Princess by doing anything in her power to not re-marry, from leaving Thuringia despite her brother-in-law's orders to telling people "either leave me alone and let me become a Franciscan tertiary, or I'll cut off my own nose and disfigure myself so no one will want me!" She got her wish and died single at age 24.
  • Eliza Emily Donnithorne, the possible inspiration for Ms. Havisham, was dumped by her fiance on their wedding day, and shut herself in her home for the rest of her life, drawing the curtains and leaving everything in its place to rot.