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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
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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.

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.

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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.

As this is a Death Trope, expect unmarked spoilers.


Examples:

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    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.
  • Done heartbreakingly in the anime adaptation of Utawarerumono with Teoro after he managed to deliver a message that Yamayura Village was under attack. As he slumps down from his previously hidden mortal wounds, he first sees the spirit of his wife followed by the rest of the villagers before seemingly getting up and joining them, revealing that everyone are already dead and that he had lied about about them escaping before he too succumbs to his wounds.
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    Comic Books 
  • In issue #300 of Cerebus the Aardvark, after Cerebus dies, the typical heavenly light appears. He sees practically every major character from the comic in the light apparently pleased to see him, and then specifically sees his best friend Bear, his former lover Jaka, and his favorite author Ham Ernestway appearing together and beckoning him to join them. However, it turns out that this is just a lure by the YHWH to trap Cerebus' soul, and the comic ends with him being physically dragged into the light, which means he will never be able to reach God (per the...unusual religious framework the comic eventually became built on) and is essentially in hell.

    Fan Works 
  • In And the Giant Awoke, Littlefinger is greeted by the victims of his manipulations, headed by Eddard Stark, and told that until he feels remorse, he will be tortured.
  • In Backwards With Purpose, Neville dies in a Taking You with Me battle against Death Eaters, and right after death he is greeted by his parents (killed only slightly earlier) who tell him they are going home together.
  • The final epilogue of the Teen Titans fanfic Love in Shades of Green and Gray has Raven being welcomed to the afterlife by Beast Boy (he died at the age of 212, and she over three centuries later) and told that the rest of the team is expecting her.
  • The Pieces Lie Where They Fell:
    • Late in the first story, Twilight is greeted by her friends and family in Elysium when Death is finally able to retrieve her and take her there.
    • In the sequel, Picking Up the Pieces, the omake for chapter 25 reveals that Shining Armor has been watching over each of his descendents in turn and greeting them when they die and come to Elysium.
  • In the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf story "Smurfed Behind: Smurfing In Heaven", Empath is greeted by Smurfette upon his "death" and then later by his fellow Smurfs when he enters the fake version of Elysium.

    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.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Date with an Angel The protagonist, Jim, is dying of an undiagnosed brain tumor. The titular Angel was sent to escort him into the afterlife. She is thwarted due to crashing into a satellite and breaking a wing.
  • When Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel ascend to Heaven in This Is the End, they are greeted by Craig Robinson (who had earlier performed a Heroic Sacrifice, which earned him a place in Heaven) at the Pearly Gates.
    Craig: Welcome to Heaven, motherfuckers.
  • This is one of the main interpretations of the ending of Titanic (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.
  • In The Song of Bernadette Bernadette is dying and confides to her priest her worries that she'll never see her lady again because she "didn't suffer enough". But the lady does come for her, suffused with light and holding out her arms.

    Jokes 
  • A minister dies and discovers himself in a long line of souls approaching heaven. He gets into a conversation with the man ahead of him in line, who was a New York taxi driver during his life. The line moves forward slowly, and eventually the minister and the taxi driver are able to see what happens when somebody reaches the head of the line. St. Peter welcomes each person into heaven, and gives them each a robe, a pair of wings, a staff, and a new car. They also notice that the value of those items varies from person to person. Eventually, the taxi driver makes it to the head of the line. St. Peter says to him, "Welcome to heaven! Here's your silk robe and satin wings and gold staff and a new Lexus!" Then the minister goes up to St. Peter, who says, "Welcome to heaven! Here's your burlap robe and cotton wings and wooden staff and a brand new VW!" The minister says, "Wait a minute! I spent my life serving the Lord, and I don't get rewards as good as a taxi driver?" St. Peter says, "You don't understand. Here in heaven, we judge souls by results only." The minister says, "Results only? What's that supposed to mean?" St. Peter replies, "When you preached, people slept. When he (referring to the taxi driver) drove, people prayed!"

    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 Letters to a Sleeping Brother by Andrey Desnitsky, souls (at least the virtuous or misguided ones, the narrator doesn't know for sure about the fate of the truly wicked) are greeted after the body's death and guided in the first stages of the afterlife by a resident of Heaven. For example, Peter, a Latvian soldier who genuinely believed in Communism, is met by a pastor he knew slightly in his childhood, and the narrator herself is greeted by her saintly husband who was martyred in the Gulag.
  • 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • All My Children. At the conclusion of a montage following Palmer Cortlandt's death (and also commemorating that of his actor, James Mitchell), a door opened to reveal his beloved niece Dixie, who had herself died several years ago, extending her hand and saying "Uncle Palmer, welcome home."
  • Viewers realized that General Hospital's Oscar Nero had died when he suddenly sat up in bed and saw the ghosts of his great-grandparents Edward and Lila waiting for him.
  • In The Good Place, souls find themselves in a waiting room, where they are welcomed by Michael and invited into his office for an interview. Later, they are given a tour of the Good Place and watch an introductory video similar to a worker's orientation video shown by an employer. Of course, later in the series we find out that this place might not be all that it is advertised...
  • Implied in the NCIS: New Orleans episode in which Christopher LaSalle was shot. He awakens and reaches for his friend Dr. Wade's hand, saying, "I've missed you". However, his next line reveals that he was actually talking to his deceased brother when he then says, "Let's go fishing, Cade"... and promptly flatlines.

    Myths & Religion 
  • 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 and Eponine's spirits come to escort Valjean to Heaven, showing that he truly has been forgiven for his criminal past. In the film, Fantine is accompanied by Bishop Myriel, the man who set him on the path to redemption.

    Web Comics 
  • In Champions of Far'aus, after Will’s aunt Wila dies trying to avenge her sister and brother-in-law, and she ends up in the realm Hyperion & Leilusa set up for their followers afterlife, the first people she meets are her sister & brother-in-law. Her sister is shocked, and then worried, as Wila’s death means that her son is left with Hyperion and Leilusa. Wila’s brother-in-law on the other hand, nonchalantly asks his wife to “cough up those chips”, as they seemingly had a bet on when Wila would die.

    Web Videos 
  • 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.
  • 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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Video Example(s):

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Hamilton- Eliza's Reunion

This animated video shows Eliza die and immediately after reunited with her sisters, her son, and her husband in the afterlife.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

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