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Afterlife Welcome

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For this last night I saw the heavens suddenly open, and choirs of angels descend to meet the soul of the holy Brenden; and so great and incomparable was the brightness, that in that same hour it illuminated the whole world.
St. Columba, The Life of Columba by St. Adomnan

One of the ways to turn a death scene bittersweet or a clear case of Died Happily Ever After is to show other souls and/or angels joyfully meeting the character on their deathbed (or in an Afterlife Antechamber, or during their ascension to Heaven). It can be a case of Together in Death, when the character is met by their (romantically or platonically) loved ones who died earlier, but not necessarily.

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A darker version involves the character being welcomed, but not to Heaven. The extreme case may be a Welcome to Hell played literally.

If the angels and/or the departed souls greet the character but reveal the latter is Only Mostly Dead and has to go back, then the trope is It Is Not Your Time.

The trope's earliest mentions are Older Than Dirt, as Ancient Egyptian texts already speak of supernatural beings meeting the soul on its journey through the otherworld.

Compare Together in Death, Nostalgia Heaven (when the character sees not just their loved ones but the places they loved), Ghost Reunion Ending (when the ghosts appear to the living), Give My Regards in the Next World (when the living send greetings to the afterlife with the dying). Contrast Barred from the Afterlife, The Nothing After Death.

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As this is a Death Trope, expect unmarked spoilers.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 
    Anime & Manga 
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Vento Aureo: When Abbacchio dies, the scene changes to him sitting outside a cafe and meeting a police officer. Said police officer turns out to be his old deceased partner who tells him that he's dead when he tries getting on a nearby bus to get back to the others.
    Fan Works 
    Films - Animation 
  • In South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, Kenny receives his halo and wings from other angels at the very end.
  • Corpse Bride: In contrast to the dull colors and creatively oppressing land of the living, the land of the dead is incredibly vibrant and, ironically, lively, with Victor, and later Mayhew, awakening inside a bar surrounded by the land's friendly inhabitants and just having a good time drinking and partying. It's implied this only happens to people who were, at the very least, pretty okay in life, as the last we see of Lord Barkis after he dies is him being dragged out of the church and to the land of the dead, with a knife wielding Mrs. Plum menacingly saying, "New arrival" before closing the door behind her.
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    Films - Live-Action 
  • This is one of the main interpretations of the ending of Titanic (1997) (the other interpretations being that it is a dream or a Dying Dream): Rose dies and is welcomed in the afterlife by Jack, surrounded by everyone else she has known in her life.
    Literature 
  • In Dimon by Fr. Alexander Torik, the eponymous character goes to the otherworld to rescue his comatose and dying school crush, and ends up in an enormous palace where the attendants hurry to welcome him to any dream of his come true. After a while, he realizes it's all a ruse and This Isn't Heaven.
  • In The Great Divorce, the Bright Ones (the saved souls) and angels gather to meet the Ghosts (the souls who arrive from Hell or Afterlife Antechamber) and offer them to stay in Heaven. Many of the Ghosts don't appreciate it.
  • In Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen by Alison Weir, a fictionalized biography of Henry VIII's first wife, the dying Katherine sees angels and her dead children welcoming her to a world of light.
  • In The Little Match Girl, the girl is met by her grandmother who leads her to paradise.
  • In My Posthumous Adventures, Anna's mother, grandfather, and Guardian Angel meet her on her deathbed, and her brother, grandmother and second cousin prepare a welcome celebration for her in Heaven. Subverted in the end of the novel, since she is sent back to Earth, but neither her relatives nor the angel know of it beforehand.
  • In The Screwtape Letters, after getting killed in an air raid, the Patient is greeted by Them (that is, the angels of light).
  • It's tradition for deceased characters in Warrior Cats to be guided to StarClan by a loved one, often either a close relative or a deceased mate. The guide isn't always someone they knew in life; for example, one kitten named Mosskit was welcomed by her aunt, who died before Mosskit was born.
    Religion & Mythology 
  • Christianity:
    • It is believed that the Virgin Mary was met on her deathbed by Jesus Christ and a choir of angels.
    • Many Christians believe that a person on deathbed is met by their Guardian Angel (sometimes accompanied by another angel or angels), and sometimes by other souls. There is a lot of examples in the Sacred Tradition, such as: The Life of St. Columba describes many such occasions (for example, there is a tale of a virtuous woman whom St. Columba sees ascending to Heaven and then, about a year later, meeting her husband's soul); in The Life of St. Anthony, St. Anthony sees the inhabitants of Heaven welcoming the ascending soul of St. Amun.
    Theatre 
  • In Don Carlo, when the Protestants are burning at the stake, the Voice from Heaven bids welcome to their souls.
  • In Les Misérables, Fantine's spirit comes to escort Valjean to Heaven, showing that he truly has been forgiven for his criminal past.
    Web Original 
  • The Cry of Mann: When Jouglat is dying, he is greeted and kept company by the Ghost Lady, who remains with him even while he's in his casket. Notably, she'd been there the entire time, but his death allows him to actually see her, unlike everyone else.
    Web Video 
  • Everyman Hybrid: While it's less an "afterlife" and more of just a place to wait for a new cycle of reincarnation, Vinnie is met after death by Jeff, Corenthal, and Evan, who welcome him warmly, despite everything that happened in the previous iteration.
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