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Moving Beyond Bereavement

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"We can cry our lives away
But if they were here
They'd say
Go forward
You must keep moving on"
—"Let's Just Live" RWBY

Loss is a difficult thing to deal with, regardless of whether it's already happened or still in progress. Faced with the death of friends, family, significant others, etc., it's not unknown for some characters to struggle with accepting the inevitable.

Some may fall into denial, refusing to acknowledge their loss, sometimes to the extent of denying that their loved one is even dead or dying. Others may resort to increasingly desperate coping strategies to avoid feeling the full extent of the grief, sometimes to the point of addiction. Others are hit hard by depression and lose all motivation in life. Whatever the case, the root cause is the same: the inability to Let Go.

In fiction, this can form a character arc in which an individual afflicted by this crippling sense of loss gradually manages to let go of those they have lost and move on with their lives.

A not uncommon element of characters with a Lost Lenore; may tie in with Death Is a Sad Thing in the case of younger characters. May involve Five Stages of Grief, but not always.

Compare Her Heart Will Go On. Contrast Excessive Mourning.

As this is a Death Trope, unmarked spoilers abound. Beware.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Anohana The Flower We Saw That Day is about five high school friends coming to terms with the death of their friend Menma, who died in an accident five years ago. The sudden appearance of her ghost to one of them brings them back together and allows them to admit and work through the guilt and feelings they still have about her and each other.
  • Bakugan: After all the main brawlers go into the Doom Dimension, they are given different tests that require them to accept something about their life in order for their guardian bakugan to evolve. Shun's test was to accept the death of his mother, so his rival was his mother as a little girl.
  • In Belle (2021), a major part of Suzu's character arc is her coming to terms with her mother's death, which isn't easy since it deeply affected her to the point that even attempting to sing is a Trauma Button for her at first (as her mother was the one who encouraged her love of music). Suzu's later determination to help Kei and Tomo and protect them from their abusive father gives her a new perspective on the circumstances surrounding her mother's death, which allows her to finally accept it and move on.
  • Doraemon: Nobita and the Windmasters is a Death by Newbery Medal-style story which have Nobita becoming the owner of a sentient, andromorphic baby typhoon named Fuuko, which he keeps as a pet and bonds with for the entire story. In the climax, in order to save her master from a world-destroying Eldritch Abomination monster, Fuuko performs a Heroic Sacrifice, saving Nobita and the universe in the process. Everyone mourns Fuuko's demise, and Nobita naturally takes it the hardest, but in the final scenes set a few weeks later Nobita sees a mini-tornado in the streets and comforts himself with the thought that "he's no longer alone, Fuuko is everywhere now" proving he had eventually gotten over her demise.
  • Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children: One of the central threads is Cloud's guilt over the deaths of Zack and Aerith. In the end, after some nudging from beyond courtesy of Aerith, he is finally able to let it go.
  • In Fruits Basket, a good part of Tohru's character development is learning to accept her mother Kyoko's death and that she doesn't have to prevent herself from being happy in order to honor her mother's memory. While her habits of addressing her mother in inner monologues and treating photos of her mother as though they're actually her may seem like cute quirks at first, it's eventually made clear that this isn't healthy and that Tohru's over-attachment to her dead mother is weighing her down emotionally. She also feels guilty about falling in love with Kyo, not wanting to replace her mother as the most important person in her life, but later realizes that she can still love Kyo while also remembering her mother as someone important to her.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: A reoccurring theme in the series is not only can you not bring the dead back to life but that you should never try and learning to live with this fact is the only way to move on. Ed and Al are forced to confront the fact that as powerful as they are, they can't save everyone and they can't reverse the past, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't continue working to help to prevent repeats of those tragedies.
  • In Maison Ikkoku, Kyoko, who has been a widow for several years when the story begins, has a difficult time letting go of her late husband Soichiro. Early in the story, Soichiro's father tells her that she needs to move on, and has his blessing if she meets someone else. By the end of the series, Kyoko finally moves on by marrying Yusaku, though she still remembers Soichiro as her first love.
  • One Piece: The "climax" of the Post War Arc is Luffy having to accept Ace's death after he sacrifices his life to save Luffy and the Heroic BSoD he is going through. Jimbei helps him by pointing out he still has his crew and that Ace would want Luffy to fulfill his goal of being Pirate King for his sake.
  • Pokémon: The Series has two examples in the same region. Litten has a difficult time moving beyond the death of its Stoutland mentor until it realizes Ash's dedication in staying with it during its grieving and accepts itself into his team. Mallow is secretly depressed about the hurtful final words she said to her mother before she died — after she's able to start accepting it, a Shaymin (implied to be a reincarnation of her mom) appears and stays with her until it's ready to move on by itself like Mallow is ready to.
  • In Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Simon has a much more difficult time moving on after Kamina's death than the others, to the point where his leadership of the team is taken from him by Kittan. After multiple episodes of near-catatonia, however, he begins to come to terms with his grief and saves everyone from danger when the chips are really down.

    Asian Animation 
  • Agent Ali: The untimely death of Aliya, Ali's mother, occurred before the series and greatly impacted her immediate family. Ali's father became distant and consumed in his work as town pillar, and Ali too became emotionally distant. The Movie progresses this arc further for both of them: Ali helped Niki, who was Aliya's best friend, believing that he was continuing her heroic legacy by doing so. Niki turning out to be the Twist Villain made him regret doing so until his allies motivated him to keep going. By the movie's end, Ali convinces his father to help the people living in the slums that he and his mother had aided in the past, and they improve their livelihoods together.

    Comic Books 
  • New X-Men: Cyclops' inability to cope with Phoenix's death kick-starts a series of events that culminate in a Bad Future where mutants have been hunted to near extinction and the world is ruled by Sublime. The entire point of the final story arc is for the resurrected Phoenix to send a message to her lover in the past, encouraging him to move on with his life and prevent the cataclysm from happening.
  • The last two arcs of Brian K. Vaughan's run on Runaways involve the team learning to move on from the death of their teammate Gert.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 
  • Big Hero 6: Both Hiro Hamada and Yokai/Professor Callaghan are consumed with grief at the loss of their respective loved ones, which drives much of their actions throughout the movie: Hiro making himself a superhero to capture Yokai for his possible connection to the building fire that killed Tadashi, while Yokai was setting things up for his revenge against the man he deems responsible for his daughter's death. After learning Yokai's true identity and hearing him dismissing Tadashi's sacrifice as his own mistake, Hiro became determined to kill Yokai in vengeance. But thanks to Baymax, Hiro snaps out of his grief-fueled rage and learns to accept Tadashi's loss. Yokai, on the other hand, refuses to let go of his loved one to the very end.
  • Frozen II: In the song "The Next Right Thing", Anna forces herself to deal with her grief over Elsa and Olaf's apparent deaths by taking one step at a time.
  • Ice Age series:
    • In the first Ice Age movie, Manny starts out in the film as a cynical loner after the death of his wife and child, but after bonding with Diego, Sid, and Roshan, he's able to grow out of his shell and move on from his former loneliness.
    • Ice Age: The Meltdown continues his arc, having him doubtful of seeking a new romantic partner, Ellie, due to still not having moved on from his previous family. In the end, he's able to finally move on and is able to start a new family with Ellie and the rest of the Herd.
  • In The Lion King (1994), Mufasa is killed by Scar shortly after he saves Simba from a wildebeest stampede. With a little persuasion from Scar, Simba believes that he was responsible for the death and flees the Pride Lands in shame; teaming up with Timon and Pumbaa, he accepts their philosophy of Hakuna Matata as a means of distancing himself from his grief — without actually moving on. Years later, he's reunited with Nala, who tries to convince him to return to the Pride Lands and dethrone Scar, but Simba is reluctant to confront his misplaced guilt. Simba soon meets up with Rafiki, who teaches him that the past can hurt, but it's also important to learn from it so he can prepare for the future; Mufasa's spirit also appears and tells Simba that he needs to remember that he's his son and needs to take his place as the one true king, finally giving him the confidence to stand up to Scar.
  • Over the Moon has this as a Central Theme. Fei Fei is estranged from her father for marrying another woman after her mother's untimely passing, and the lunar goddess Chang'e spent millennia constantly trying and failing to resurrect her husband Houyi.
  • Up: Carl's character arc involves him moving on from the death of his wife Ellie. He starts out as a loner who wants to go to Paradise Falls and stay there at all costs to honor his wife's memory; however, after some bonding with Russell and Kevin, he eventually finds Ellie's photo book of their many moments shared in their life which has her writing out that she was satisfied with how their life went. This ultimately helps him finally move on from her death and race to save both Russell and Kevin from Charles Muntz.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Babadook, Amelia suffers from extreme depression over a number of issues in her life, most prominently the death of her husband (who passed seven years ago) and the difficulties of raising her son alone. However, once she and her son confront the Babadook and imprison it in the basement, Amelia appears to overcome her depression and finally come to terms with her husband's death.
  • The Frighteners: One of the arcs of the movie concerns Frank Bannister, a former architect who gained the ability to see and interact with ghosts after his wife died in a car accident. Wracked with Survivor Guilt over living through the same crash, he spends most of the film unable to move on with a new Love Interest; in the end, Frank sees his wife one final time in his Afterlife Welcome — only for her to return him to life. Her final farewell, encouraging him to be happy, is enough to help him move on.
  • Played With in The Gamers: Hands of Fate, where the side character Gary spends most of his personal arc going through the Five Stages of Grief over the untimely cancellation of his favorite show, Ninja Dragon Riders. While it seems to be Played for Laughs at first, the subplot takes a much darker turn when Gary becomes so isolated and unstable, his actions start getting actually harmful to others. Towards the end of the film, he calms down enough to finally accept his loss and gives NDR a solemn, heartfelt sendoff that is the single biggest Tear Jerker in the film.
  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019): Both Mark and Emma Russell have been hit by this following the Plot-Triggering Death of their son Andrew five years ago which ultimately led to their divorce, with their surviving daughter Madison being pretty much the only member of their family who's dealt with the loss in a remotely healthy way. Despite having had five years to try and pull himself back together, Mark still acts as if Andrew died only five months ago; he's fled to the Colorado mountains to work as a wildlife photographer and be as far away as possible from anything that reminds him of his problems, and he's still nursing a bitter grudge against Godzilla (and to a lesser extent all Titans) over the loss, although as the film goes on and as Mark eventually finds Vengeance Feels Empty, he learns to let go of his anger. Emma outwardly projects a Mask of Sanity, but she became a Workaholic in her Titan research committed to finding out why her son died, and even worse than Mark, she came to the conclusion that the Titans had to be set loose on humanity to cull the human race in Gaia's Vengeance as an Insane Troll Logic way of ensuring her son's death wasn't "in vain", and also because she (whether she knows it or not) blames the human race for causing her son's death by triggering Godzilla and the MUTOs' awakening in the first place. Once Emma's arrogance in her actions unleashes an even worse apocalypse than the manmade extinction event she was trying to prevent, and it furthermore leads to the surviving child she still has heroically placed herself in mortal danger, Emma ultimately makes a Redemption Equals Death to save her daughter's life.
  • Haunted Mansion (2023): Early in the film, Ben's wife Alyssa dies in a car crash. Near the end of the film, Ben is tempted by Alistair Crump to join his wife in death. He refuses, thereby accepting his wife's death and giving Harriet and Madame Leota the opportunity to defeat Alistair.
  • Throughout Inception, Dom Cobb's dreams are haunted by the shade of his dead wife, Mal, continuously sabotaging his plans and encouraging him to join her. He spends most of the movie trying to repress Mal, sealing her in a prison of memories and even refusing to design any of the dream levels in case she learns how to undermine the mission. In the finale, he is forced to confront her in the ruins of the city they built together in Limbo and finally admit the Awful Truth: he's directly responsible for the real Mal's death, having forced her to leave Limbo by planting the idea that the dreamworld wasn't real — only for her to become convinced that the real world was a dream as well and commit suicide in an attempt to wake up. Furthermore, Cobb acknowledges that the shade is just his best effort at recreating his wife in his dreams — but it's nowhere near as good as the real thing. After this confrontation, Mal troubles him no further.
  • Ponette: The main theme of the film is accepting and moving on from one's death and this is something the title character struggles to do so after surviving a car crash that kills her mother and leaves Ponette with a broken left hand. Ponette hasn't gotten over her mother's death, given that she is 4, and becomes desperate in wanting to meet her again, often having to imagine (even believing) that her mother is beside her and believing that she will come back to life just like Jesus did. Ponette goes through a lot of grief, insult, and neglect as a result, until she visits her mother's grave and happens to meet her (whether it's a spirit or a hallucination is left unclear), and it's Ponette's last proper interaction with her mother that allows her to accept her mother's death and move on, with the mother's last words to learn to be happy.
  • Rush Hour 2 reveals that Lee's father was killed while working on a smuggling case. While the culprit was never caught, it was suspected that his partner, who is now a Triad boss, was the killer. The case is very personal for Lee and opens up some emotional wounds that he hasn't dealt with. In the film's climax Tan does indeed confess to having murdered Lee's father. In the end, Lee gives his father's badge to Carter saying that he can finally "let it go".
  • For most of Shutter Island, Teddy Daniels is in mourning for his wife, killed by a crazed arsonist by the name of Andrew Laeddis some years ago; he also experiences vivid dreams of his wife that escalate to full-blown hallucinations as the stress of his investigation at Ashecliff piles on. It's actually remarked several times that Teddy has to "let her go," both by real characters and by his visions, but he doesn't listen until the finale reveals why: Teddy Daniels and Andrew Laeddis are actually the same person, his wife was killed immediately after she drowned Andrew's children in a lake, and he's spent the last two years at Ashecliff in a state of denial; everything in the film has been the doctors trying to break through Andrew's delusions and get him to accept reality. By the end of the film, it seems he's finally come to terms with what happened to his wife — though Andrew isn't intending to move on, and it's implied that he's faking a relapse to force his doctors to lobotomize him.
  • Wonder Woman 1984: Ever since the death of Steve Trevor in World War I, Diana has been unwilling to move on and date someone else. During the film, however, she comes in contact with the Dreamstone, an artifact that grants a person a wish — allowing her to inadvertently bring Steve back to life. But his resurrection comes at a price: Steve's spirit was summoned into another man's body, and Diana's powers begin weakening in the process. So that she has the strength for the climactic battle, Diana is forced to renounce her wish, sending Steve's spirit away and giving Diana back her powers. At the end of the film, she seems to be interested in dating another person (coincidentally the man Steve's spirit was inhabiting.)

  • In the Animorphs novel The Ellimist Chronicles, Toomin becomes the last Ketran in the universe when their refugee ships crash on an ocean world; among the casualties is his wife Aguella. Worse still, he and the dead Ketrans then become prisoners of Father, with Toomin being forced to entertain the monstrous being through games — his only reward being a pleasant illusion where his loved ones are still alive. Grieving for the loss of his friends and loved ones, Toomin can only half-heartedly play along, losing for years on end. But when Father challenges him to a game of music, Toomin finds himself using his own grief and loneliness as inspiration to create something Father cannot match, and is able to defeat his opponent; gaining the inspiration to fight back, he begins winning through creativity and seizes control of the hive mind, absorbing all of Father's knowledge before finally destroying him. In the process, he disconnects Aguella and the other victims of Father from the network, granting them peace at last, allowing Toomin to move on from his grief — and take the first steps in his transformation into the Ellimist.
  • The Book of Lost Things begins with the death of David's mother following a long period of illness; as a child, he doesn't know how to cope with the loss, and even less with his father eventually remarrying. Consequently, David spends most of the early chapters consumed with depression and resentment for his stepmother — and later, his stepbrother. This emotional turmoil proves to be exactly what the Crooked Man needs to lure David into his Magic Land, namely by mimicking the voice of his mother and beckoning him towards the portal. As such, the bulk of David's Character Development involves him developing the maturity to overcome his grief, accept his stepmother and stepbrother, and face the real world — however horrible it might be — allowing him to defeat the Crooked Man once and for all.
  • The final story arc of the novel, Bridge to Terabithia, deals with Jess Aarons dealing with the grief of losing his only friend in school, Leslie Burke, who died from drowning in a creek. For most of the remaining chapters, Jess is shown dealing with the Five Stages of Grief in a realistic way, refusing to acknowledge Leslie's death and thinking she's still around — to the point that the Disney 2007 adaptation added a scene where Jess finally snaps and beats up a bully who teased him over the incident. However, by the final scene, Jess realizes he still has his younger sister, MayBelle, who supports him no matter what, and finally decides to move on with his life.
  • The Saga of Darren Shan, the beginning of book 10 shows Darren going through this after the death of his mentor.
  • Most of the Garden of sinners is devoted to Shiki's blundering attempts to come to terms with the death of her second personality, SHIKI, which occurred as a result of her failed suicide.
  • Discussed in The Great Divorce. Reginald points out that his sister Pam mourned her deceased son Michael excessively for ten years, driving her husband and daughter crazy because she felt they weren't devoted enough to his memory. Reginald says that eventually Pam stopped caring for Michael himself and reveled in her own importance, and that she should have let Michael go.
  • Keeper of the Lost Cities: Grady and Edaline lost their daughter Jolie years ago. They kept her bedroom exactly as it was, and sometimes Edaline would spend the night in Jolie's bedroom. Part of Edaline's development is reaching a point where she's ready to pack up Jolie's stuff and put it away.
  • A major part of The Lovely Bones is devoted to Susie's family struggling with the loss of their daughter in the course of the following years (and not just a loss: she is murdered by the neighborhood serial killer, and her body, apart from a few "fragments", is never found). Very gradually, they manage to deal with their grief, and Susie, watching from the afterlife, says that the "lovely bones" are the bonds that have formed and/or strengthened between people after her death.
  • In the Magic Kingdom of Landover series, the first book begins with protagonist Ben Holliday being completely adrift in life after the death of his pregnant wife in a car accident. Over the course of the first half of the series, he comes to terms with both her loss and his new weird life as the ruler of Landover, eventually marrying again.
  • In the climax of The Magicians, Alice is forced to transform herself into a Niffin to win the final battle, destroying her personality in the process. Knowing that he's indirectly responsible for all this, Quentin spends the last few chapters of the story grieving, and after two failed attempts to find some way of bringing Alice back, he begins avoiding reality in order to cope. Giving up magic in favour of Self-Imposed Exile in New York, he uses the Brakebills old boys' network in order to get a job with no actual work attached, and spends his days wasting time; his denial is so extreme that he actually believes himself more mature than his fellow magicians for taking this step... until he meets Emily Greenstreet, who is even more locked in denial than he is. Realizing that he's just wallowing in self-indulgence and self-pity instead of actually making any effort to move on, Quentin eventually resolves to take responsibility for the mistakes he's made — namely by taking up magic again and helping his friends put Fillory back on an even keel. By the second book, he still misses Alice, but he's moved on enough to pursue another adventure and even find another girlfriend.
  • Our Wives Under the Sea: While Leah isn't necessarily dead, she's an Empty Shell of her former self. Miri still tries to support her wife and wants them to be happy again, but is terrified to realize that Leah — the only person she ever genuinely loved — is too far gone. As the months pass, she muses that the hardest part of losing someone isn't accepting that they're gone, but that they're never coming back; and yet everyone seems to assume she'll just get over it. In a Bittersweet Ending, Miri finally lets Leah go and comes to terms with her death.
  • Nico Di Angelo's Character Arc in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Battle of the Labyrinth revolves around accepting his older sister's death and how it wasn't Percy's fault. By the end of the book, he and Percy return to good terms, with Nico going to look for more information about his family. For added irony, Nico is the son of Hades, the god of the Underworld.
  • P.S. I Love You is all about the trope. Knowing he was dying, the main character's husband wrote her a series of letters where he reaffirmed his love for her and gave her advice to help her cope with widowhood. The novel is all about her receiving these letters during the year that follows his death. He even encouraged her in them to find love again (though by the end of the novel, she ultimately decides she's not ready for a relationship yet).
  • Soothe My Sorrows by Yulia Voznesenskaya is a short story collection, where most of the stories deal with this trope in various ways. For example:
    • In I'm Building a Heavenly House for My Beloved, the main character loses his adored wife and thinks he'll now spiral into depression and drunkenness as he has nothing to live for. The priest convinces him to pray for his wife and do good deeds in her memory, so that, just like he worked to buy her a flat on earth, he'd help her build a house in Heaven. After a year, the man realises that he has grown genuinely immersed in the charity work and church activities, and while he would never forget his beloved, he has — in the process of helping her — found a new meaning of life for himself.
    • In 160 Sorts of Asparagus, a woman is utterly devastated by her husband's death and anxious about the state of his soul. For months, she feels unable to completely let go of him, looking for signs from him such as previously-unnoticed recordings of his voice or his photos. Eventually, her husband appears to her in a dream to thank her for her prayers and tell her that he is in Heaven. Having come to terms with her loss, she concludes that she has had no more signs from him since then and is all right with it.
  • In Swashbuckler by James Moloney, Peter McNeil spends his days pretending to be an Errol Flynn-like hero, perpetually bewildering his friends, enemies, teachers, and protagonist Anton. Throughout the story, though, Peter claims to be pitted against a dragon, and it's not until the end of the novel that we finally discover what the dragon actually is: his father is dying of cancer, and Peter is trying to cope with his grief by becoming the Swashbuckler, essentially distancing himself from the tragedy by reimagining his dad's cancer-ravaged body as a "dragon." After some encouragement and play-acting from Anton, Peter goes to confront the dragon in the hospital, allowing him to say goodbye to his father before he finally passes away.
  • Sword Art Online deals with this trope in the form of Eugeo, Kirito's longtime companion in Underworld for the Alicization saga. Their intimate bond and Eugeo's tragic demise at the hands of Quinella is part of the reason Kirito is a catatonic mess by the beginning of the second half. Even after finally escaping Underworld, Kirito still had to spend some time grieving for Eugeo and still does so by the Moon Cradle arc.
  • In There Lived an Old Lady Who Wore Green Boots by Yulia Voznesenskaya, the lifelong friend (with hints of Ship Tease) of Agniya's granddaughter Natasha dies after accidentally falling under a train. Agniya, who has lost many loved ones in her life, helps Natasha come to terms with it, at the same time gently talking her out of things such as stopping eating. In fact, Natasha made it all up: the boy is alive and well, he was just such a Jerkass to her (he suggested they have sex, with him being fourteen and her thirteen, and after she refused he started to ignore her and flirt with other girls right in front of her) that she decided to pay him back by announcing that, to her, he is now dead.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5:
    • This is part of Sheridan's Character Arc, letting go of his late wife, Anna, who died while on an archaeological expedition to a distant world, Z'Ha'Dum. It comes up several times over the series, but despite a growing relationship with Ambassador Delenn, he isn't able to fully let go if it until Anna comes back from Z'Ha'Dum, but not really, trying to get him to come to hear the Shadows' side. He takes her up on it, secretly bringing along a pair of thermonuclear devices, and uses them to destroy a Shadow city and Anna along with it. After that, he is finally able to truly let her go.
    • Ivanova's father dies in the first season, which leads to her rabbi visiting her in a subsequent episode to help her sit shiva for him and reconnect with her somewhat lapsed faith and strained family relations.
  • Much of Season 2 of Batwoman is about Kate Kane's loved ones coming to grips with her apparent sudden death.
  • In the Everything's Gonna Be Okay episode "Emperor Scorpion", the Moss family marks the one-year anniversary of the death of their patriarch, Darren. While younger siblings Matilda and Genevieve have made their peace with the death of their dad, Nicholas struggles to express his grief appropriately, because he has spent years having to pretend that he had no feelings about his father in order to survive living with his mother, who hated Darren. Alex encourages him to start embracing his feelings so that he can start to grieve properly and then move on.
  • Farscape: Following the events of "Infinite Possibilities," Aeryn is in mourning for the version of John Crichton she'd fallen in love with. In "The Choice," her depression drives her to leave Talyn for a visit to the planet Valdon, where she spends most of her time drinking heavily, taking increasingly aggressive lengths to avoid her shipmates, and occasionally interacting with an imaginary Crichton; at one point she even goes so far as to seek out the services of a mystic that can bring back the real Crichton. In the end, following a violent confrontation with her estranged mother in which she finally gives vent to her sorrows, Aeryn is able to move on from her grief by returning to cold-blooded Peacekeeper professionalism, and tells the illusory Crichton he has to leave now; her Imaginary Friend sadly turns his back on her, and a cut later, Aeryn is alone — but finally free to return to Talyn.
  • Two cases in Forever (2014)
    • Widow Det. Jo Martinez lost her husband less than a year ago, and has mostly been drowning her feelings with booze and the occasional casual sex with near-strangers. As the series progresses and her friendship with Henry grows, she gradually comes to terms with his death.
    • Henry, who is immortal, met Abigail at the end of World War II, and they were together for forty years, raising an adopted son Abe together. By 1984 the difference in their apparent ages has become a real problem, especially for Abigail, now 64, while Henry still looks 34. She leaves him, according to a letter just for a short time, so she can think about what to do next, but they never hear from her again. Henry sinks into a deep depression, convinced something must have happened to her but unable to find her, telling Abe he doesn't want to live without her but he can't die, either. Abe pulls him out of it, but Henry isn't able to move on and let himself care about anyone else. (As they never actually divorced, Henry doesn't even know if he's still married or a widower.) Eventually they discover that Abigail had written a letter, asking Henry to join her at a remote farmhouse where they could be together for the rest of her days; they also discover she died before she could send it, killing herself to protect Henry from psychopathic fellow immortal Adam. Once he knows Abigail is dead, and he's dealt with Adam, Henry is able to find closure and may be ready to open up to Jo.
  • Go On: The premise of the show is sportscaster Ryan King attempting to move on from his wife’s death from a car accident, by opening up to a quirky, sometimes dysfunctional support group and showing Brutal Honesty. Like with Shrinking below, this gets Played for Laughs often.
  • In the Season 2 finale of Hannibal, Abigail Hobbs ends up getting her throat slit by Hannibal Lecter while a mortally-wounded Will Graham looks on in horror. Next season, the episode "Primavera" features Will pursuing Hannibal across Italy, and for the last eight months has been accompanied by an alive and unharmed Abigail. However, towards the episode, Will finally acknowledges that his substitute daughter has been dead all along, and tearfully says goodbye to his Imaginary Friend before she "dies" again; Will is left sad, but able to move on.
  • The Haunting of Bly Manor:
    • Owen's mother dies comparatively early in the series, leaving the household cook emotionally shattered — especially given that he blames himself for not being there when she died. He remains weary and depressive for the next two episodes, to the point that Hannah takes over cooking for him while he's still grieving. What eventually allows Owen to recover is a bonfire night in which he finally gives vent to the grief he feels, acknowledging all the feelings he couldn't openly admit to at the funeral.
    • Henry is struggling to move past the deaths of his brother and sister-in-law, keeping himself separate from Miles and Flora out of guilt: Flora is actually his daughter, courtesy of an affair with his sister-in-law, and the trip that ultimately killed Dominic and Charlotte was an attempt to repair the marriage. Consequently, Henry spends most of his time getting drunk in his office, and it's noticed that he's refusing to cancel his brother's mail as that would mean acknowledging his death. He's also being haunted by a nightmarish doppelganger, the living personification of his own guilt and self-loathing. The doppelganger is finally banished when Henry faces up to his responsibilities and goes to Bly to protect Flora.
    • Dani is in mourning for Eddie, her fiancée, keeping his glasses despite being openly disturbed and upset by them, even being haunted by nightmarish visions of him at several points. As it turns out, this is actually out of guilt: Dani is a closeted lesbian and had confessed her true feelings to Eddie — breaking off their engagement in the process — right before his accidental death. After coming to terms with her sexuality and falling in love with Jamie, she is able to throw Eddie's glasses away and move on.
  • In The Haunting of Hill House (2018), the Crain family spends most of the show mourning for Nell after she dies of an apparent suicide at the eponymous Haunted House; worse still, it ends up getting tangled up in their many, many personal issues along the way, including Steve's compulsive fear of mental illness, Shirley's Control Freak tendencies, Theo's emotional unavailability, Luke's drug addiction, and the conflicts between all of them — most of which are also due to unresolved grief over the death of their mother at Hill House. Their dysfunction proves so great that the family's attempt at a respectful late-night vigil for Nell is spent hurling insults at each other. Eventually, Luke tries to burn down Hill House and is nearly killed in retaliation, luring the entire family to the house in an attempt to rescue him; in the process, they confront their issues through illusions within the Red Room and meet with Nell's ghost long enough to say goodbye — allowing them to finally move on.
  • How I Met Your Mother dealt with this trope when Marshall’s father Marvin died and Marshall struggled to get back from turning into a Manchild in a few sixth season episodes, and when in the 200th episode, the titular Mother had to learn over eight years to let go of her First Love, Max, who died suddenly on her 21st birthday. The final moments of the show also reveal this to be its entire premise; the protagonist Ted Mosby’s wife, the Mother, has been dead for six years by 2030, and Ted, the titular “I”, has been telling to his kids (“Your”) the story of how he met her, which runs from 2005-13 and mentions his ex-girlfriend Robin often, in order to gain their approval to date Robin.
  • Throughout Maniac (2018), Annie Landsberg is struggling with the death of her little sister Ellie, having spent their last day together hurting her feelings before accidentally causing their car to crash. By the first episode, she's taking experimental drugs that allow her to relive her worst memory so she can see Ellie again until low supplies force her to participate in an experiment designed to resolve past emotional trauma. During the next few episodes, she experiences several illusory scenarios built around her guilt and self-loathing, until she finds herself escorting a sickly elf princess to a healing lake — and the "princess" just happens to be Ellie. Unfortunately, the GRTA sabotages the experiment by roping Annie into a bargain in which she gets to stay with Ellie forever in exchange for becoming one of the possessive computer's permanent entourage. It takes the assistance of Owen Milgrim's Imaginary Friend to save them and put the two test subjects back on track. The end result is that Annie finally has a chance to apologize to Ellie and share a heartfelt goodbye before the simulation ends; when she awakes, she's able to make amends with her surviving family, kick her drug habit, and rescue Owen from the mental hospital.
  • Patrick Jane, The Mentalist, said some unflattering things about serial killer Red John on live TV, and Red John subsequently killed and mutilated his wife and young daughter to punish him. Patrick suffered a breakdown, was institutionalized for six months, and afterward dedicated his life to catching Red John and doing to him what he did to Jane's family. Jane was unable to move on, partly due to guilt, partly to shutting out everything but his revenge, and partly out of fear that anyone else he became involved with would become a target for Red John. He turned down a gorgeous potential threesome by stating "I'm married" even five years after their deaths. Only after finally getting his revenge on Red John was Patrick able to move on and develop a relationship with Teresa Lisbon.
  • Never Have I Ever begins with Devi's father Mohan's untimely death, which traumatizes his daughter and is suggested to be the root cause of her issues. Part of her Character Development is accepting that he is gone and moving on. It also applies to her mother Nalini, who finds it difficult to raise Devi without him and tries to move on romantically.
  • Once Upon a Time: The path for Regina's transformation into the Evil Queen started when her mother killed her lowborn lover Daniel in order to force Regina to marry the King. She's unable to even think about loving someone else romantically until early Season 2, when Daniel's reanimated corpse encourages her to move on before being Killed Off for Real. She listens, ultimately settling with Robin Hood.
  • In The Republic of Sarah, Grover's main arc is his struggle to move on from the death of his wife, a process which is made harder after his house is seized by eminent domain and sold in order to fund the new republic of Greylock.
  • Shrinking: The premise of the show is therapist Jimmy Laird attempting to move on from his wife’s death from a car accident, by opening up to his patients and showing Brutal Honesty. Like with Go On above, this gets Played for Laughs often.
  • Shtisel:
    • The first season begins with the Shtisel family formally ending the designated mourning period for Dvora, Shulem's wife and mother of Akiva, Giti, and Zvi Arye. Shulem, however, takes some time to fully move on and consider remarrying, which he does attempt several times.
    • One of the overarching plots of Season 3 is Akiva moving on from Libbi's death. At first, he refuses to sell his paintings of her, then tries to get them back, and eventually his marriage to Racheli turns into real love.
  • Star Trek
    • The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Bonding" has an archeologist die from a landmine while on a routine expedition, and the crew try to break the news to her son. Worf feels especially bad because it was so senseless a death (all the other mines they found had been deactivated). An alien Energy Being appears as the boy's mother and says she'll take him down to the surface where he can live happily; the crew object because sad as dying is, it's a part of life, while living in a Lotus-Eater Machine wouldn't do a still-growing kid any good. The episode ends with the alien conceding the point, and the boy performing a Klingon ritual with Worf.
    • Inverted in the episode "The Loss": here Ensign Janet Brooks was widowed five months ago, and her way of coping with her grief is keeping busy and convincing herself that she's over her loss. Eventually Troi helps her realize that she never let herself mourn properly.
    • The first episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, "Emissary", features a subplot in which Captain Sisko's interactions with the decidedly non-linear Prophets allow him to gradually accept his wife Jennifer's death.
    • In "Life Support", Kira Nerys loses her lover, Vedek Bareil. It's not until a later episode, "Shakaar", that she stops performing the Bajoran mourning ritual and moves past his death.
  • Superstore: Glenn's subplot in "Myrtle" has him hit the hardest by Myrtle's sudden death, and he assumes everything he sees is a message from her from beyond the grave. He even pays the $1,000 Myrtle left Jonah to his pastor to ensure she gets into heaven. By the end of the episode, he accepts that she's probably in a better place.
  • WandaVision: In the wake of Vision's death in Avengers: Infinity War, Wanda succumbs to her grief and inadvertently creates a pocket reality modeled after her favourite sitcoms; here, Vision is alive again and raising a family with her, but the pocket reality unfortunately enslaves the residents of a very real small town into serving as background characters in Wanda's fantasy. After several episodes of being called out on this by Vision, Monica, the Big Bad, and even the townsfolk themselves, Wanda finally dissolves the false reality she's made, bidding Vision and their children goodbye as they vanish; she then leaves town, still sad but finally able to move on.

  • During Act 2 of Hamilton, Alexander Hamilton's son Phillip is killed in a duel; what follows is the song "It's Quiet Uptown," in which Hamilton tries to move on from the tragedy, and can be seen wandering the city in a depressed daze, talking to himself and absolutely crushed by grief. He begins to recover when he finally mends his relationship with his estranged wife Eliza, allowing them to gradually move on.

    Video Games 
  • Bioshock 2 — Minerva's Den: during the backstory, Charles Milton Porter's wife was killed in the London Blitz and he's secretly been unable to move on from his grief ever since then. As such, when he created the Master Computer known as The Thinker, he eventually programmed it to recreate his wife in perfect detail... but when he finally got it right, he realized that it just wasn't her. Instead, he had the Thinker find a way out of Rapture. After Charles is transformed into Subject Sigma and defeats his treacherous former business partner, the Thinker is able to help him escape to the surface, where Charles can regain his humanity, pay his last respects to his wife, and finally move on.
  • Borderlands 2: The DLC Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon Keep is about a roleplay between the titular character and the surviving original Vault Hunters. In all reality, though, the whole play is Tina's way of coping with, and eventually accepting, the death of Roland, the remaining original Vault Hunter, who was killed in the main game by Handsome Jack. By the time of Borderlands 3 and the remaining DLC of 2, she seemed to finally be able to move on.
  • In Dead Space 2, a common feature of the test subjects affected by the brain-warping influence of the Marker is that they have experienced loss in their past and are unable to move on, resulting in hallucinations of their dead loved ones that eventually drive them insane.
    • In one case, Nolan Stross killed his wife and child while under the influence of a Marker shard, and as a result, sees his dead family taunting him from beyond the grave. Unable to confront his own guilt, his denial drives him to become dangerously obsessed with the "Steps" instituted at Titan Medical Centre, until, at the absolute nadir of his insanity, Stross is attacking Isaac with a screwdriver, screaming that he has to "face her for me" and "tell her I didn't mean to do it." This confrontation ends with Stross having his screwdriver driven back into his skull.
    • In another case, Isaac Clarke is haunted by the death of his girlfriend back in the first game and spends most of the narrative haunted by an illusory version of Nicole. Worse still, the hallucination only becomes more aggressive as the game continues, sneering at his efforts to survive the crisis and mocking his inability to move on. Close to the finale, she confronts Isaac one last time and demands to know why he can't let her go: failing the quicktime event will result in Isaac denying her existence — then having his neck snapped; however, if you succeed, Isaac finally confesses that without Nicole, he has nothing left. With this, he finally reaches step four — Acceptance — and his symptoms abate.
  • GRIS is a platformer that uses a world of dense symbolism to represent a woman's process of grieving her deceased mother.
  • I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream: Gorrister is in mourning for his wife Glynis — they had a difficult marriage, largely due to him working most of the time, and it finally came to a head when one night, in anger, he punched her. Glynis quickly lost her grasp on reality and had to be committed to an asylum, and upon hearing from his mother in law what sort of state she was in, Gorrister broke down in tears and began to blame himself. Thanks to AM wiping out the entirety of humanity except the five survivors and subjecting those few to 109 years of torture, Gorrister has never had the chance to move on and only wants to kill himself, as he attempted to multiple times after Glynis was institutionalized. Gorrister's part in the game involves AM sending him into a psychodrama in which he will supposedly have a chance to kill himself — though, of course, it's just an empty promise. However, thanks to sabotage inflicted by the other supercomputers, Gorrister has a chance to learn that her descent into madness was not entirely his fault, call out his simulated mother in law, who exacerbated her illness, bury Glynis' simulated body, and say goodbye; if all the steps are completed perfectly, Gorrister's spiritual barometer fills out, his long-dead heart starts to beat again, and he is able to escape the psychodrama — much to AM's annoyance.
  • Injustice: Gods Among Us: Harley Quinn's character arc revolves around her getting over The Joker's death in order to become a true heroine. By the time the sequel rolls around, she has come to accept that he was an irredeemable monster and refuses to be associated with him.
  • The Last of Us: Joel has been grieving the loss of his daughter Sarah for 20 years before he meets Ellie. Though he initially tried to keep her at arm's length, he eventually grows to love her as a daughter and moves on from Sarah's death. This development is shown through him rejecting an old picture of Sarah and him when Tommy offers, but later tearfully accepting and thanking Ellie when she reveals she stole it to give it to him.
  • The Last of Us Part II: Ironically this is part of Ellie's story after Joel is killed by Abby at the start of the game. While revenge is mostly her main motive, it's likewise fueled by guilt that she took so long to reconcile with him after finding out he lied to her about the events at the end of the first game shortly before his death.
  • The bulk of Layers of Fear concerns the Artist's efforts to overcome his grief over a multitude of tragedies concluding with the suicide of his wife. Consumed by depression, alcoholism, and terrifying hallucinations, the Artist is now trying to move on by creating a portrait of his wife as she was before her disfigurement, confronting all the troubling memories and nightmares he's acquired along the way. The composition may or may not involve the use of human remains. There are three possible endings to this quest:
    1. The Artist abandons his efforts to paint his wife and instead completes a beautiful self-portrait, allowing him to move on, reinvigorate his career, and make his name in history... but at the cost of no longer thinking of his wife and child.
    2. The Artist succeeds in his original goal, only for the painting to mutate into a hideous recreation of his hideously-disfigured wife, forcing the Artist to dump it in a room full of similarly-ruined portraits (all of which appear flawless at second glance). He then begins work on yet another attempt at the magnum opus...
    3. The Artist creates a portrait of his wife and daughter, but finally realizes that his artistic efforts can't bring back either of them, ultimately setting the painting, the rejects and himself on fire.
  • Rose of The Legend of Dragoon has been mourning the deaths of her fellow dragoons for many years prior to the start of the game and likely hasn't had a chance to move on due to spending the 11,000 years since then as the Black Monster, killing people in order to prevent the end of the world. As a result, she has been left cold, withdrawn, and prone to flashbacks; being in the company of Dart and company gradually makes her become more sociable, but it's not until Disc 4 that she finally makes peace with herself and moves on from her losses — most prominently by freeing the spirits of the dragoons from Vellweb, allowing her to say goodbye to her friends before they vanish into the afterlife.
  • Mass Effect:
    • Kasumi Goto, when first introduced in Mass Effect 2, is revealed to be mourning for her boyfriend and fellow thief Keiji Okuda; as such, her loyalty mission is a heist mission to steal back Keiji's graybox from his murderer, ostensibly for the politically-dangerous secret that got him killed. Once Kasumi finally avenges her lover's death and makes off with the prize, it becomes clear that she also wants the graybox for the memories of their time together... but then Keiji's final message advises her to delete the contents so that the secret he learned won't endanger her as well, a reveal that leaves Kasumi overwhelmed with grief for the first time in the story. Shepard then has a choice between advising her to abide by Keiji's last wish or to keep the graybox; in the case of the latter, Kasumi will become obsessed with reliving the memories and degenerate into a recluse, while in the case of the former, she will eventually be able to move on.
    • During the backstory to Mass Effect 3, Steve Cortez lost his husband during a Collector attack on Ferris Fields, and has spent much of the time since then absorbed in his work — to the point that Shepard has to talk him into taking shore leave. He's also prone to risk-taking behaviour in combat, his guilt and grief having essentially disabled his self-preservation instincts. However, in the event that Shepard befriends him or (if male) romances him, he's eventually able to move on and find happiness in the present. Otherwise, he'll end up getting killed in the finale.
  • In "The Final Descent" path of Neverending Nightmares, it's ultimately revealed that the entire dream journey has been Thomas attempting to move on from the death of his daughter, with all the imagery witnessed over the course of the nightmare being in some way related to the sense of guilt, loss, and horror he feels. In the real world, his wife has actually left him, her final letter begging him to move on from the grief and go on living. Though the game ends with him crying over the letter, it's implied that he will eventually be able to recover from the tragedy.
  • The ending of RiME reveals that the boy's whole journey through the game was a fantasy of his father coming to terms with losing him in a seastorm.
  • Comparatively early in Spider-Man (PS4), Miles Morales' father is killed in a suicide bombing arranged by the Demons, leaving Miles grieving for a good chunk of the story that follows. It takes a while — plus a pep-talk from Spider-Man — but he's eventually able to channel his grief into working for F.E.A.S.T. and move on with his life — to the point that when he discovers that Martin Li, the founder of F.E.A.S.T. was behind the attack, he opts not to leave the organization in a quest for revenge, instead choosing to stay and help the homeless.
  • In Warframe, Mother is desperate to find her father, the illustrious scientist Albrecht Entrati, after he was lost to the Void, bringing her entire family to Deimos and hoping that the seriglass shard he left behind would help her find him. She's so devoted to her pursuit of her father that she cuts off her husband's arm when he suggests she let Albrecht go. It's not until you reach the highest level of standing with the Entrati that the other members of Mother's family convince her to accept that Albrecht is long gone and to devote herself to the present.

    Visual Novels 
  • In VA-11 HALL-A, this is the character arc that Jill goes through after the game's Wham Episode. The last customer on December 21 makes the story take a much different direction. The customer is Gaby, the sister of Jill's ex-girlfriend Lenore. After a little bit of awkward small talk, Gaby informs Jill that Lenore is dead. As a result, Jill Never Got to Say Goodbye after they broke up, with Gaby really not helping by saying that Jill breaking up with Lenore probably sped up Lenore's death. This sends Jill into a Heroic BSoD, and she spends the rest of the game trying to deal with her very conflicted emotional state, especially what she's supposed to do with her grief.

    Web Animation 
  • Red vs. Blue: Season 15 mainly focuses on the Reds and Blues coming to terms with Church's death and that he's gone for good this time.
  • RWBY: This theme is featured prominently, especially after Volume 3 and Monty Oum's death. The show often displays how the heroes must never give up in spite of the pain they're in, honoring the friends and family members who have fallen. This is juxtaposed against the fact that many of the villains, such as Neo and Salem, are unable to move past their grief and instead of healing, obsess around what happened and hurt others. Numerous songs in the soundtrack are also about living after someone has died, such as 'Let's Just Live' and 'Indomitable'.

  • Sleepless Domain: Themes of bereavement and trauma recovery are at the story's emotional core. The setting and world are a dark take on the magical girl genre, wherein teenage girls with magic powers serve as society's only line of defense against nightly monster attacks. Since in this universe, "magical girl" is basically shorthand for "Child Soldier," grieving and how to heal from loss are majorly present in the narratives of several characters.
    • Undine: Chapter 2's big disastrous twist establishes those themes early on for protagonist Undine when three of her four closest friends and teammates die in battle. Undine takes center stage as protagonist from Chapter 3 onward, at which point it's clear to the audience that grappling with the aftermath of that incident will be her first major arc.
    • Tessa: Relegated to supporting character status from Chapter 3 onward, her grief does not get quite the same level of detailed exploration Undine's does; however, it's still abundantly clear that their friends' deaths had just as devastating an effect on her life as it did on Undine's.
    • Kokoro: Whereas Undine and Tessa are actively mourning the deaths of people close to them, Kokoro's mother was killed in the line of duty when she was only a few months old. This, of course, prevents her from really being able to grieve the memory of her mom; however, her father struggled with the loss in ways that had very poignant, formative effects on Kokoro's development as a person.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Yue's death haunts Sokka during the beginning of Book 2, leading to a sub-plot in "The Serpent's Pass", where he refuses to accept Suki's advances out of fear she will die just like his former lover. At the end of the episode, he overcomes his trauma and gives Suki a passionate kiss, thus officializing their status as a couple.
  • Bob's Burgers: The B-plot of "Manic Pixie Crap Show" has Linda get attached to a flower arrangement that resembles a dog, as it reminds her of her childhood neighborhood dog, Bottlecap. Bottlecap was hit by a hot dog truck right in front of the young Linda, and she's never really talked about it or even processed it, so she names the flower arrangement "Bottlecap 2" and obsesses over keeping it alive. Mort comes in because the arrangement was meant to go to his funeral home, and when Linda refuses to give up Bottlecap 2, he convinces Linda to let herself grieve Bottlecap openly.
  • Human Resources (2022): "It's Almost Over" is about Walter's oldest client Yara, who has Alzheimer's, approaching death, with Walter being the last monster on her team. Walter refuses to accept that Yara is dying and tries to keep her alive by bringing up her loving memories, even as they get glitchy. Logic Rock Pete tries to ward off Keith from Grief so Yara's son Amir can focus on caring for Yara, as grieving doesn't feel as "productive." They eventually all accept that Yara is dying and have a good, healthy cry over it. Yara dies at the end of the episode so Walter refocuses his attention on Yara's granddaughter Natalie, who is also grieving. The moral of the episode, as Keith puts it, is that "the only way out is through" — you need to let yourself grieve if you want to recover from grief.
  • In Book 1 of Infinity Train, Amelia Hughes has taken control of the Infinity Train for the past thirty years in an attempt to recreate her life with her deceased fiance Alrick. It takes Tulip telling her that there's no way to bring him back and that the two have to move on from the changes in her life before she decides to move on and atone for her crimes.
  • In the final episode of The Midnight Gospel, Clancy meets his mother in the universe simulator, where it's revealed that she's dying of cancer — finally explaining why he's spent the show so far avoiding reality and panicking whenever the rest of his family reach out to him. Over the course of their time together, Clancy is forced to confront all the issues he didn't want to face as he and his mother discuss life and spirituality, experiencing physical regression, Rapid Aging, death, and even rebirth, until the two of them Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence and become planets. In the finale, Clancy's mother is drawn into a black hole, facing death serenely as she bids Clancy farewell; Clancy is emotionally overwhelmed, but he is ultimately able to continue his adventures with a clear heart.
  • In Season 3 of Young Justice, Artemis is not over the death of Wally West from the previous season, as is Dick Grayson, despite the three-year time skip. Early episodes in the first half of the season deal with both of them coming to terms with their loss. Dick is given some advice from the many Roy Harper clones that operate Bowhunter Security, while Artemis is given a day with Wally in the realm between life and death, which helps her say her goodbyes despite not wanting to leave — though it turned out to be a ruse from Miss Martian as she does not have that power, and this was just telepathic therapy.


Video Example(s):


Kasumi and Keiji

Having gone to so much effort to steal back her murdered lover's greybox for the memories of their time together, Kasumi realizes she'll have to delete them for her own safety - forcing her to say goodbye to Keiji Okuda for the last time.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / MovingBeyondBereavement

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