Follow TV Tropes


Excessive Mourning

Go To

"We've all gone crazy, mourning all day and mourning all night,
falling over ourselves to get all of the misery right."
Che, Evita

Someone has died. Someone else grieves — on, and on, forever, to the total neglect of all other duties. Or sometimes, on such a grand scale that he's a hazard to all who surround him. Disproportionate Retribution, for instance, is often powered by Excessive Grief.

When Due to the Dead is exaggerated, it inverts itself. Instead of being a mark of a Good person, it is the mark of clinging to the death too much and irresponsibly ignoring the existence of other people. The most common neglect is of the person's children — or their other children, if The Favorite died. (It has been known for a child to become The Unfavorite because the other child died.)

Many societies may have rigid mourning customs. This, for instance, includes the period of time a person spends in mourning, and the proper days on which to commemorate the dead. Some excess may be regarded with understanding in the wake of death, but continuing will bring distaste. Imprudent expenditure, such as enormous tombs and extensive ceremonies are also problematic, especially if the character can't really afford it. There may also be suggestions that some forms of mourning — like seclusion — are less prudent than others — such as commemorating the dead with charitable donations.

People reasoning with the mourner often argue that, after all, death is inevitable, and that excessive grief is impious to a death decreed by Fate or God/gods.

May be cured with Epiphany Therapy and Single-Issue Psychology. Compare Sanity Slippage and Deus Angst Machina. See also The Mourning After, which requires only that the character not move on to a new relationship, though they can overlap. May be caused by The Lost Lenore.

Compare Revenge Before Reason for "Excessive Vengeance", which may happen at the same time as this trope. Contrast Get A Hold Of Yourself Man (where he's told to stop mourning too much) and Get It Over With.

Include only examples where it is clearly indicated in the work that the character's grief is excessive. Otherwise, see Wangst.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day, Meiko "Menma" Honda's mother Irene was so traumatized by Menma's death that she locked herself in the Honma household and refuses to see anyone, plus neglects her remaining child Satoshi. Fortunately, towards the end she's working on getting better.
  • Kuro, a twin-tailed cait sith in Blue Exorcist, flies into a blind rage after hearing of his best friend's death. He only calms down after Rin headbutts him and calmly explains the situation.
    • Tomoya's father Naoyuki became depressed after his wife died, taking to alcoholism and smoking to cope, and in doing so neglected his son, which put a strain on their relationship, and it even lead to an incident where Naoyuki injured Tomoya's right shoulder, permanently crippling it. They became like strangers ever since.
    • Like Parent, Like Child, Tomoya mourns over Nagisa's death for a number of years, while neglecting his daughter Ushio, whom he left with Nagisa's parents. He drank alcohol, smoked, and even buried himself in his work, but nothing helped. After finally bonding with Ushio, Tomoya does get to reconcile with his father.
  • In the finale of Future Diary, Yuki is so devastated by the death of his beloved Yuno that he spends 10,000 years floating amongst the ruined remains of the world, staring mournfully at the final entry of his cell phone diary stating that she died. Thankfully, the Gainax Ending turns this around into a happy ending.
  • In Hell Girl, Kazuko, a mother of two, becomes a wreck after her son Tatsuya dies in an accident, which leads her to neglect her daughter, Emi. Emi later sends her mother to Hell in retaliation for her neglect.
  • In Knight Hunters, Ran Fujimiya is so obsessed with his comatose sister, Aya, that he changes his name to 'Aya', despite this being mainly a woman's name.
  • Tobi a.k.a. Obito from Naruto, totally lost his marbles after his beloved Rin died, to the point that it becomes the catalyst for his Start of Darkness. His villainous motivations are ultimately so that he can meet Rin again, even if it is only an illusion.
  • Ranma ˝: Soun Tendo spends the entire series mourning his late wife, who died years before the series started. This causes him to neglect both his business and his three daughters.
  • In Sing "Yesterday" for Me, Shinako is still not over her high school crush five years after his death, and centers her whole life around his memory, regularly bursting into tears at reminders of him. Meanwhile his father and younger brother rarely talk or think about him and seem to have moved on with their lives. At one point the father tries to subtly suggest that she doesn't need to spend so much time with them or focus on her loss so much.
  • Trapped in a Dating Sim: The World of Otome Games is Tough for Mobs: Louise Rault does this over the death of her little brother Leon Rault which happened a decade prior. It's her Freudian Excuse for bullying Noelle and Lelia, and part of what alienated her adoptive brother Serge from her family. Noelle eventually realizing her motivation, mocks Louise for it, leading to a Cat Fight. Leon Bartfort being an Identical Stranger to the dead brother makes her treat him as her brother's Replacement Gold Fish.
  • In Triage X, Kunio Oomichi mourns the death of his older brother Yukio. One of the Kabuto-gumi's wakashusnote  reminds him that he can't mourn his brother's death for long since he needs to take over. He responds by hacking the unlucky servant's hand off with his katana for interrupting him.

  • In "The Unquiet Grave", Child Ballad #78, the dead lover objects to mourning that lasts for more than A Year and a Day as an injury.
    The twelvemonth and a day being up,
    The dead began to speak:
    "Oh who sits weeping on my grave,
    And will not let me sleep?"

    Comic Books 
  • Adolf, die Nazi-Sau by Walter Moers lampoons and exaggerates Princess Diana's Real Life mourning. In his version of the story, it was Adolf Hitler who accidentally drove her into her doom (It Makes Sense in Context). The more nerve-grating is it for him how excessively she is mourned always and everywhere. A TV news anchor even says,
    "Oh, by the way, Mother Teresa is dead, too, but who cares..."
  • Black Canary once went on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, denying that Ollie was dead, after he had attacked her on their wedding night, and she had killed in self-defense. All her friends interpret this as Excessive Grief, and her knowledge that that is exactly what it looks like only drives her on harder. (When Batman analyzes the situation and concludes that she's right, she kisses him for joy.)
  • One of the randomly generated heroes in Dial H for Hero is Captain Lachrimose, whose power is to cause this in others. He can sense a person's saddest memory and make them experience the full unmitigated grief of it. In a vicious (virtuous?) cycle he also fuels his Super-Strength and Flight from ambient sadness.
  • One of the Adam Warren comics of the Dirty Pair showcase a chemical weapon called "Cry-Baby", that triggers angst on anybody who inhales it and boosts it, turning them into a sobbing mess. The first target that we see it working on is a transhuman mercenary that is a walking definition of the term "Testosterone Poisoning". Turns out that the Rape, Pillage, and Burn-happy-super-duper-ultra-macho visage he has he built to conceal the fact that he is still mourning for the death of his pet dog "Squiffy" thirty years prior (so Yuri (the member of the Pair that applied the Cry-Baby into the room he and other mercs were in) feels a bit reluctant to offer her condolences).
  • The Tales from the Dark Multiverse version of The Death of Superman features Lois Lane giving into this after she perceives that the world and Clark's fellow superheroes didn't care about Clark's death, willingly undergoing a Fusion Dance with the Eradicator and becoming a Knight Templar, directly causing the deaths of many people including Lex Luthor, the Joker, and (after he called her out on it) Batman, as well as indirectly leading to the deaths of Superboy, Steel, and the real Superman once he returns.

    Fan Works 
  • Lady Barbrey Dustin of Robb Returns serves as an example of this, since she still holds a grudge against Ned for leading her husband Willem to his death at the Tower of Joy and failing to bring his bones back. Her grudge kept her from telling Ned about the fog gathering on the barrows near her home ever since the Call, and when Ned only hears about it when he calls a council of war, he is inwardly displeased at more information being lost because of old grudges.
  • Pokémon: A Marvelous Journey: Amara was once a Nice Girl until the death of her best friend Chanel during an incident with a rampaging Gyarados. However, she expresses this grief by becoming a Bratty Teenage Daughter with a hatred of all Pokemon, which spirals into her running away from home and going on a Pokemon journey despite being blacklisted as a Trainer. Along the way, she ends up building up an impressive rap sheet, which includes stealing a Totodile from Professor Elm's lab, physically and verbally abusing Pokemon regularly, forcing her Pokemon to directly attack humans, and assaulting Gym Leaders to steal Gym Badges. She only comes to her senses when she discovers that Pokemon Hunter J was behind said Gyarados rampage the whole time, and thus all of her anger towards her family, friends, and Pokemon was completely unfounded, upon which Amara breaks down in Tears of Remorse and turns herself in to the police.
  • In Pokémon Strangled Red, Steven mourns his Charizard, Miki, for an entire year. He gives up all he has to grieve, and in the year that passes in the game, his outlook has not improved. Lampshaded by a comment from an NPC:
    "Still mourning I see..."
  • In Why Am I Crying?, Filthy Rich went down this road following the death of his wife and unborn son. He became an alcoholic basket case, worked excessively to keep himself sane, and ignored his daughter Diamond Tiara because she looked so much like Crystal Eyes.
  • Bequeathed from Pale Estates: Robert Baratheon and his wife Cersei Lannister. Robert still uselessly pines after his deceased betrothed Lyanna Stark (who's been dead for over a decade, mind you), while Cersei still mourns her two youngest children over a year after their deaths during The Plague. This does no favors for their already toxic marriage, nor for Joffrey, who has only become even more unstable with the increase in Parental Neglect.
  • Queen Anne's Legacy: King Henry VIII continues to mourn his wife Anne Boleyn until the day he dies, always putting her first in his heart since she gave him the son he wanted at the cost of her life. This eventually kills his marriage with Jane Seymour, because Jane genuinely loves him and finds herself constantly having to compete with Anne's ghost. By contrast, his mistress Catherine Parr isn't in love with Henry at all and doesn't mind being second to Anne, so she's able to keep his favor.

    Fairy Tales 
  • In The Brothers Grimm story "The Shroud," a mother weeps nightly for her dead son. One night, his ghost appears and asks her to stop, because her tears are making his burial shroud wet and preventing him from being able to "sleep". She manages to hold back the next night, and the ghost shows up to say that he can now pass on.
  • In a Snow White-like story from the Hebrides Islands, when the queen of the sea goes up on land and gets trampled to death by a horse stampede, her husband mourns her for more than a year, to the point of neglecting everything including his daughter. When he sees her a year later (she's still mourning, too), he resolves to find a new mother figure for her.note  He marries a SeaWitch, who promises him that she'll look after his daughter... though she's really just after his power and turns out to be a Wicked Stepmother.
  • In Tattercoats, the nobleman lets his granddaughter grow up neglected and abused by servants because of her mother's death during childbirth, and his oath to never look on her face. Eventually, she marries the prince, but her grandfather goes back home to mourn and shuts himself out of the Happy Ending because he gave his word.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • MonsterVerse:
    • Godzilla (2014): Joe Brody hasn't got over the death of his wife — which, by the way, was a Shoot the Dog on his part — even fifteen years on. He's gone from being a respectable power plant engineer to living in a small apartment teaching English as a second language, and he's remained intensely obsessed ever since the power plant meltdown which killed Sandra with finding out what really caused it that Monarch are covering up. This has strained Joe's relationship with his son Ford, who wishes his father could just let Sandra's memory rest.
    • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019): Both Mark and Emma Russell respectively after the Plot-Triggering Death of their elder child Andrew during Godzilla's battle against the MUTOs, leading to their marriage's collapse. Five years after Andrew's death, Mark has run away to the Colorado mountains to be as far away from anything that reminds him of the incident as possible yet he acts as if it's been only five months since Andrew died, he's nursing a bitter hatred of the Titans (Godzilla especially) over his son's death, and he repeatedly aims his anger at his former Monarch colleagues during the film even when all they're doing is trying to help him — he gets better over the course of the film via Moving Beyond Bereavement. Emma meanwhile outwardly appears to have moved on with her life and continued doing something useful with herself even if she is still haunted — this is a Mask of Sanity as it's revealed that she's actually had an even worse long-term reaction to her son's death than Mark has. Having evidently suffered some Sanity Slippage, she's decided that Utopia Justifies the Means regarding her findings that the Titans are ecologically essential to the Earth's and humanity's long-term survival and regarding her valid concerns about the government shutting down Monarch and trying to exterminate the Titans, joining up with Alan Jonah's Eco-Terrorist plot to set all the Titans loose on the world for a population cull and ecological restoration, under the Insane Troll Logic that she's somehow ensuring Andrew's death wasn't in vain. And their surviving daughter Madison, the Only Sane Woman of the family, is caught in the middle, being distant from one parent and emotionally manipulated by the other, although both parents come to regret not valuing the one child they still have once she's in mortal danger at the Final Battle.
  • She Shoots Straight has the mourning scene for Inspector Huang, which lasts for around 20 minutes onscreen.
  • Whale Rider: Poraurangi loses his wife and son in one day, and his mother says to give him time to mourn. However, spending thirteen years globe-trotting and neglecting his very much alive daughter, that's excessive. The breakdown may have been fueled by his father's sky-high expectations.
  • This is what brings Jeff under Jigsaw's radar in Saw III. He's so totally consumed by the death of his son that he's neglecting his life and the rest of his family, to the point where his introduction to the audience is him scolding his daughter for taking a toy bear from his son's room. All of his games in the film are about getting him to let go of his obsession. Too bad he learns the wrong lesson.
  • A year after losing Eurydice in Shredder Orpheus, Orpheus either drowns his sorrows or lays around in bed all day, with Linus having to cover for canceled gigs and Scratch, Axel, and Razoreus having to remind him to eat. Linus and the oracle both tell Orpheus to move on with his life, to no avail.
  • In Silent Tongue, Talbot Roe is going mad with grief over losing his Indian wife, Awbonnie: staying by her body and refusing to eat or sleep.

  • In Animorphs, Marco's dad Peter, previously an important scientist, spent two years unable to function after his wife, Eva, died in a boating accident. Complicating this is the fact that she wasn't actually dead, she was off in space as Visser One's unwilling host.
  • In Artemis Fowl, the title character's mother loses her sanity after her husband goes missing in the Russian sea. Artemis trades some of his stolen fairy gold back to Holly in exchange for a magical cure.
  • In the Belgariad:
    • The extinction of the Marags caused their god Mara to spend centuries in insane grief. Mara doesn't actually ever come to terms with their loss; instead, he cheers up when it turns out there's one survivor and so it's possible to repopulate.
    • One of the downsides of all the Perfectly Arranged Marriages of which the Purpose is so fond is that whenever one of the partners in a marriage dies, the widow or widower left behind tends to fall into such a deep depression that they become incapable of functioning. One of the particularly bad cases was Aravina, the mother of one of the Rivan heirs; when her husband died in a riding accident, she was too overcome with grief to take care of her son Gelane, and lacking sufficient parental guidance (normally, Polgara would have taken over, but she was away), he turned into a difficult, moody brat who briefly fell under the influence of the Dark Side.
  • In Brightly Burning, the mother of the late, unlamented Tyrone Jelnack has the house decked in black swaths of mourning, when all other houses have green garlands due to a midwinter festival. It's not only in questionable taste, since Tyrone was known to have been a Royal Brat, but also makes it clear that she gets her own way, even though she's of questionable sanity.
  • A Cry in the Night: While she's initially empathetic, Jenny comes to realize that Erich's grief over his mother's death - which he witnessed - has become this. She's been dead for twenty-five years but he tends to act like it happened recently. He keeps the house exactly the way it was when Caroline was alive, including keeping his boyhood bedroom the same, and blames a lot of his emotional issues and possessiveness over Jenny on his mother's death.
  • Isaac Asimov's story "The Dead Past" has Potterly's wife, who's been mourning their daughter since she died several years ago. She'd happily use the Chronoscope to relive her past even if it means she'd waste away.
  • In the first book of Dirk Pitt Adventures, Dirk meets a woman who, to his shock, has been mourning her husband and keeping herself away from society for the past nine years.
  • In C. S. Lewis's The Great Divorce, one damned woman was My Beloved Smother toward her son, and after his death insisted on keeping his room the same and otherwise obsessing over him until her husband and daughter revolted, though they were a loving father and sister. Her brother, as a Bright One, observes that it was not even her dead son dominating their lives, but her wishes.
  • In Sky Key (Endgame Trilogy) Sarah after being forced to kill her boyfriend Christopher.
  • In Frankenstein, the titular Frankenstein is lectured by his father at one point about his "immoderate grief" in the aftermath of the death of his youngest brother and a close family friend. Frankenstein's father, however, is unaware that part of his son's torment is due to guilt that the monster he'd created killed the two.
  • This was a problem during Katniss Everdeen's childhood in The Hunger Games. After her father's death, her mother shut down to such an extent that Katniss herself basically had to take charge of the family.
  • In the Iliad, Achilles' revenge for Patrocles' death includes abusing Hector's corpse after his death. Only when Priam appeals to him for the corpse does he settle down.
  • In Monstrous Regiment, the Duchess of Borogravia went into secluded mourning after the death of her husband; when the novel opens she hasn't been seen in public for years, and there's a rumor going around that at some point she died and the mourning is being used as an excuse to hush it up. The rumour is proven partly true at the climax.
  • Persuasion has the late Richard Musgrove who "never deserved a name other than Dick" (a remark which became funnier later), who was sent into the Navy for want of being useful any other way. He happened to end up on Captain Wentworth's ship, and although he speaks kindly to Mrs. Musgrove about her son, the narrator points out that Dick wound up being loved more when dead than alive and that he really didn't deserve all the lamenting and sighing that Mrs. Musgrove is doing now.
  • At the beginning of Sense and Sensibility, Mrs. Dashwood and Marianne indulge their grief over Mr. Dashwood in an incessant feedback loop, bringing up memories and keepsakes specifically to keep the sadness going. Elinor, while unhappy herself, is forced to take on all the work of actually running the household while her mother and sister sob themselves insensible.
  • Non-dying variant occurs in A Song of Ice and Fire: In the first book, when Bran is in a coma, his mother Catelyn goes into a Heroic BSoD that echoes this trope: spending all day and night by his bedside, abandoning her duties as Lady of Winterfell, and her other two children who are still in the castle, Robb and Rickon. Robb later gives her a What the Hell, Hero? speech for it. She finally snaps out of it when someone sends an assassin after Bran, and after the attempt is thwarted she leaves Winterfell in an attempt to protect the rest of her a family. For reasons a little too complicated to explain here, she and Bran never see each other again.
  • In Laura Amy Schlitz's Splendors And Glooms, Clara is the sole child of the family to survive. She receives presents every birthday from the dead, must visit the grave every significant day of the year (such as Christmas), and is surrounded by mementos of the dead. When Parsefall observes that deathmasks are gruesome, she feels a burst of Commonality Connection.
  • In Tigana, the Evil Sorcerer takes revenge on an entire country because his favorite son died in a battle there.
  • Tamora Pierce’s Tortall Universe:
    • Alanna’s father retreats into his books and avoids both his children after his beloved wife dies, and on top of it despises magic (even theirs) because it wasn’t enough to save her.
    • In a minor example, or at least one headed off at the pass, Beka scolds her bereaved friend Tansy to make offerings at a temple to her murdered son instead of starving herself and declaring that she doesn’t want to live.
  • In The Witchlands, Cam accuses Merik of this, noting that not only is his grief making him barely functional and unwilling to see the truth that's right in front of him, but Merik seems to think that this is somehow a good thing.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Everybody Hates Chris: In "Everybody Hates Funerals", we're introduced to Rochelle's Dysfunctional Family, one of whom is a sister by the nickname of "Aunt Grievey", named because she only shows up at funerals. No weddings or birthdays. Just funerals.
  • Played for Drama in Marchlands. When the series begins, Rose's daughter Alice has been dead for six months, but she is convinced that Alice died in suspicious circumstances, which no one else believes. Her husband and in-laws pressure her to move on, thinking she's just grieving excessively, and making up theories to justify holding onto her little girl. Well, two of them think that, anyway. One of them knows exactly how Alice died.
  • Monk was pretty unstable his whole life, but when his wife was killed in a car bombing it drove him off the deep end - causing him to have a full mental breakdown and be removed from the force. He's still absolutely fixated on her and her death over 10 years later.
  • In the early episodes of Orphan Black, the main character Sarah fakes her death with the help of her foster brother Felix. Sarah's abusive ex, Vic, is utterly devastated, spending days, if not weeks, at a time drinking in Felix's loft, much to his annoyance. When Vic says he now wants to get to know Sarah's daughter, Felix decides he's had enough and kicks him out.
  • A Saturday Night Live sketch features Chris Farley crying over his parents' deaths thirty years after the fact, to the consternation of everyone he meets.
  • Twin Peaks centers around the death of Laura Palmer. Naturally, many of the townsfolk are stricken with grief, however her father Leland takes it to excessive territory. Laura's death affected everyone, but Leland is reduced to a dysfunctional mess who risks causing a scene everywhere he goes, whether it's having fits of sobbing triggered by Laura's favorite music, or even collapsing on his daughter's coffin at her funeral. It happens so often that people can't help but laugh about it behind his back.
  • Defied in the Doctor Who story "Time-Flight". Once the Doctor has made it clear to Tegan and Nyssa that the Laws of Time mean they cannot go back and prevent Adric's death, he says Adric wouldn't want everyone to "mourn unnecessarily" and offers to take his remaining companions to the 1851 Great Exhibition to take their minds off what has happened.
  • Daredevil: At the start of season 3, Foggy and Karen are processing Matt's "death" in Midland Circle from the climax of The Defenders differently. It's clear Foggy has made a lot of progress to move on from what happened since he has his family and his girlfriend Marci Stahl to provide moral support. Karen, on the other hand, is obsessively pouring over stories relating to Midland Circle at the Bulletin to the point that even Ellison notices something's up.
  • Given the series' subject matter, it's unsurprising that this trope comes up frequently in Six Feet Under. In the first episode alone, Ruth breaks down during her husband's funeral, with many other mourners reacting in embarrassment for what they view as this trope being in effect. Relaying the story of a funeral he watched in Italy, her son Nate concludes that her way of grieving was still healthier than the funerals he's seen in the US, which tend to be dull, emotionless affairs.
  • Supernatural is full of this trope. Sam and Dean are naturally the worst offenders, infamous for their unhinged behaviours when one of them dies, and the lengths they'll go to to prevent those deaths or bring each other Back from the Dead. That said, they learned from their parents, one of whom made a Deal with the Devil to bring the other Back from the Dead, the other of whom went on a decades-long Roaring Rampage of Revenge and Heroic BSoD when the first died (her death being the side effect of the deal she made to bring him back in the first place). Anyway, Sam and Dean spend 15 seasons dying in turn, with the surviving brother making assorted deals with the devil of his own or just plain going Ax-Crazy until they bring their brother back.


    Mythology & Religion 
  • The Bible:
    • Jacob's ten oldest sons are so jealous of the favorite son, Joseph, that they sell him into slavery and fake his death. When presented with his bloody coat, Jacob wails that "my hoary head will go down to the grave mourning", and proceeds to grieve for Joseph until he's finally reunited with the family about twenty years later.
    • In a more Due to the Dead version, the Gibeonites hanged seven sons of Saul and left their bodies on the gallows for five months. Rizpah, the mother of two of them, spent the whole time shooing away any animals that tried to eat them until David was able to recover and bury them.
  • The Talmud (Moed Katan 27b) advises that people follow the prescribed mourning practices, but not to continue them beyond their specified times, claiming that excessive mourning can actually bring on more death. It discusses a woman with seven sons, who mourned excessively when one of them died. The sage Rav Huna advised her to stop; when she didn't listen, her other sons died too, followed by the woman herself.
  • The Epic of Gilgamesh: When Enkidu dies from a sickness sent by the gods, Gilgamesh refuses to let him be buried for seven days, hoping he can call him back to life by his mourning. Only when maggots appear in Enkidu's face, Gilgamesh allows the corpse to be buried, and then goes off into the steppe alone to cry for Enkidu, leaving his kingdom behind.
  • Heimskringla: When Harald Finehair's Sami wife Snaefrid dies, her body does not decompose, and Harald sits at her deathbed for three years because he thinks she might come to life again, in the meantime neglecting all affairs of government. Finally Harald's advisor Thorleif suggests changing Snaefrid's bedsheets; as soon as the corpse is raised, it turns rotten. Harald has it burnt on a pyre and stops mourning.

  • In Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues, Harriet feels so responsible for the death of her parents (since she argued with them before they got in their accident) that she's become severely depressed, often forgoing basic human needs and finding herself unable to return to her home after the accident. The local child psychiatrist has been trying to help her, but she's still highly dysfunctional a year later.

  • In "Oh What a Circus", the opening number of Evita, The Everyman narrator Che says that Argentina is going overboard with the grand scale of Eva's funeral.
  • In The Rose Tattoo, Serafina never leaves her house or gets dressed for three years after her husband's death, though she does mind her daughter. Father De Leo calls her out for her self-indulgently excessive grieving and further scolds her for having had her husband cremated to make an "idolatrous shrine" of his ashes in her house.
  • In William Shakespeare's works:
    • Countess Olivia of Twelfth Night was left in the protection of he brother when her father died. When her brother also passed away, she vowed to mourn for seven years, wearing black, never speaking to men, and admitting no kind of suit. It's suggested that this is at least partially a device intended to get the irritating advances of Duke Orsino off her back, as she renounces her grief pretty quickly on meeting Cesario.
    • Hamlet is treated as though his mourning for his father (two months after his death) is excessive, when really it is the rest of the Danish court—now under the control of Hamlet's usurping uncle Claudius—that has brushed the incident under the rug.
    • In King John, the Lady Constance (a sort of forerunner to The Ophelia trope) is seen as excessively grieving the death of her young son— King John himself says to her "You are as fond of grief as of your child" and he and the Bishop tell her she is mad. May be more of a Subversion than a trope played straight— her son's death was mere days ago, and her grief may be more politically inconvenient than anything else.
  • This trope and its inverse could be said to be at the heart of the drama in Next to Normal. Combined with her bipolar disorder, Diana is simply unable to stop grieving for her dead firstborn son Gabe, even at the cost of neglecting her daughter Natalie. It's so bad that she hallucinates him as an 18-year-old even when he died as a baby, though the mental illness is definitely partially to blame. Her husband Dan on the other hand refuses to grieve at all in favor of pretending that everything is okay, hoping that the lie will come true. Both behaviors ultimately come crashing down on their heads when Diane's hallucination of Gabe convinces her to attempt suicide and later on, Dan attempts to hide Gabe's existence to an amnesiac Diana, causing her to leave him when her memories come back.

    Video Games 
  • The king of Ascantha in Dragon Quest VIII has kept his entire kingdom in a state of mourning for the late queen, who died two years prior.
  • Shigeki Murai, the villain of Insanity, has a really bad case of this, to the point of being in denial anyone's died. Shigeki couldn't face going to his daughter's funeral because it would've felt too final. Six months after Emiko's death, Shigeki still can't really accept she's gone and does little but brood over it in his lab. He then became obsessed with the idea of developing a potion to resurrect her; his wife and servants initially let it slide as a bizarre coping mechanism, but he began to delude himself he could actually bring the dead back. It all went downhill from there. Years later, Shigeki still can't accept that his loved ones cannot be brought back.
  • In Might and Magic 8, you need to find someone who witnessed the creation of the lake of lava on the Ironsand Desert, who happens to be a troll named Overdune Snapfinger. However, Overdune tells you that he can't go with you because his brother, Vilebite, died during the aforementioned flood of lava, and his father is in such grief over his death that he can't take care of himself. Overdune requires you to bring Vilebite's ashes to the local tomb before he can go with you, in hopes that this will ease his father's pain.
  • Inverted in Oninaki. Because of the way the cycle of reincarnation works in Oninaki's world, Kagachi's society frowns heavily upon any grieving of the dead, because it prevents spirits from moving on and being reincarnated. This is displayed very clearly at the beginning of the game, where a young Kagachi is told not to mourn for his parents. It's implied that this had a negative effect on him, turning him into the cold and aloof person he is as an adult.

    Web Animation 
  • In Mario Brothers, Mario mourns Luigi's death for too long, which not only gives Koopa time to carry out his plan but also causes the 1-Up used on him later to fail.

    Web Original 
  • The Dead Bart Creepypasta suggests that after Bart's untimely demise, the entire family sat around for an entire year doing nothing but grieving, which is implied to be to the detriment of Maggie and the pets, as well as the surviving family members themselves, who become listless and skeletal from self-neglect.
  • In the Springhole post "Tips and Advice on Killing Main Characters", Syera comments this trope is used to show the bereaved person's loyalty for the deceased went far beyond anyone else's, while in real life, it's a sign that the bereaved is really bad at coping or had a mental illness that was exacerbated by the loss, and that it's not weak nor an act of disloyalty to the deceased to seek help to recover from the loss.

    Western Animation 
  • In season 4 of Bojack Horseman, we learn more about the childhood of BoJack's mother Beatrice. Beatrice's mother Honey could not handle the loss of her son Crackerjack (he died in World War II), culminating in her and Beatrice getting into a car accident because she tried to let her too-young daughter drive. Justified in that Beatrice grew up in the '40s, and she and her mother were encouraged by everyone (including Beatrice's father) to hide their emotions and make babies. Beatrice's father ended up dealing with Honey by having her lobotomized.
    Honey: I can't be with people and I can't be alone. And I don't know how to be better. Please fix me.
  • Castlevania (2017): Dracula following the Plot-Triggering Death of his beloved human wife Lisa. After her murder by the Corrupt Church, Dracula has basically entered into a Suicidal Cosmic Temper Tantrum, intending to eradicate the human race entirely and then let the vampires and himself follow them to the grave as "history's longest suicide note". He now spends the majority of his time sitting solemnly in front of a hearth, starving himself of blood, and it becomes increasingly evident as the series goes on that he's been waiting for someone to just put him out of his misery. He also imprisoned his and Lisa's son Alucard for trying to stop his genocide, and when Alucard returns to try and finish him off, Dracula almost kills him but has a Heel Realization about the fact he's killing the "greatest gift" Lisa gave him and allows Alucard to kill him.
  • Cleveland in The Cleveland Show initially had this over the death of his unfaithful ex-wife Loretta to the annoyance of Donna. He realized it was Survivor's Guilt; the falling tub gag he had been victim to several times while living in Quahog left him without a scratch, yet killed Loretta the one time it happened to her.
  • In one episode of South Park, the woodshop teacher abuses Nicorette gum because he didn't get to say goodbye to his (Live-action) wife, who died by crashing her airplane. Once he runs out, he attempts suicide. In an uncharacteristically sweet scene, her ghost, and the ghost of his favorite uncle, appears to comfort him and talk him out of it.
  • In Steven Universe, Blue Diamond has been mourning for Pink Diamond for over five-thousand years and is still grief-stricken like it just happened yesterday, including secretly visiting the site of her death on Earth and preserving any mementos of hers that she can find. Yellow Diamond berates her to move on, despite secretly mourning herself, albeit more through anger and denial.
  • The true identity of The Conductor, as revealed at the end of Book One of Infinity Train is Amelia Hughes, a widow who was scooped up by the train after her husband's death and, instead of working through her grief, has been trying to build a replica of her old life with him in it for the past thirty-three years. Her refusal to let go of her mourning is, in one way or another, the catalyst for much of the drama of the rest of the show.
  • Miraculous Ladybug: Implied from the very beginning with Gabriel Agreste, who we learn early on has become a total recluse who barely leaves his house or interacts with his son Adrien anymore (not that he was up for father of the year beforehand) after the mysterious disappearance and presumed death of his wife. That turns out to be just the tip of the iceberg: Gabriel is the Big Bad, and the reason he became a supervillain was all part of his plan to get her back. By any means necessary, and there's mounting evidence that he sees his son's life as acceptable collateral damage.

    Real Life 
  • James M. Barrie's entire childhood was warped by his mother's excessive grief over his brother, who drowned in an ice skating accident. At one point, his uncle forced him to go into the room where she was to remind her of his existence; Barrie states his mother took great comfort in Barrie imitating his deceased brother. Her longing for her son, "who would remain a boy forever", served as the eventual inspiration for Peter Pan and the other Lost Boys.
  • Joanna of Castile, a Spanish queen who went mad with grief after her husband's death, and allegedly took his corpse with her when traveling so she would never have to part with him.
  • Queen Victoria didn't go around in black all the time (as is her customary depiction) — until her husband died in 1861. She was in mourning until she died, 40 years later. It's been speculated that the Victorian system of mourning attire fell out of fashion because the Queen was so excessive in following it.
  • When Hephaestion, closest friend and possible lover of Alexander the Great died, Alexander threw him an absolutely enormous funeral. Costing the modern equivalent of somewhere between two and four billion dollars, it included funeral games with over 3,000 competitors, a funeral pyre almost 200 feet high decorated in gold, and the extinguishing of the sacred flame (something normally done only upon the death of a king/emperor). Alexander laid in bed for two days crying, declared Hepaestion's regiment would never have another leader, and insisted that he be worshiped as a divine hero alongside Alexander himself. His health also declined rapidly after Hephaestion's death, thought to be due to his extreme distress at the loss of his friend, and he himself died just a year later.
  • Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of President Abraham Lincoln, was said to be so inconsolable after the death of their son William that she locked herself in the White House master bedroom for days after his funeral, doing nothing except laying in bed and weeping over a photo of her son. An apocryphal story on the subject says she only came out again when Abe threatened to send her to an asylum for the insane, though history does show he had to hire a nurse to look after her for months after William's death, so there might be some truth to it. Worth pointing out: Mary had severe depression, and some historians posit she was bipolar, which would no doubt be contributory, especially in a time when mental health wasn't nearly as well studied as it is now.
  • In 2021, a Reddit user posted on r/AmITheAsshole, asking if she was in the wrong over a situation regarding her daughter, "Marnie's," wedding. Her other daughter, "Brooke," had died at the age of five, and the OP had fallen into such deep grief that she could not take care of her other two children, who had to go live with their father. She continued mourning Brooke for the next 26 years, brought pictures of her to every event she went to, asked Marnie to display a memorial table for Brooke at her wedding, and told her she was being selfish when she refused. Consensus among the commenters was that the OP would lose her relationships with her living children if she did not take steps to move past her grief.


Video Example(s):


Blue Diamond

Ever since Pink died, she's been mourning non-stop--for 6,000 years straight.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / ExcessiveMourning

Media sources: