Scripturally, marriage—and hence presumably also marital and sexual love—stops at death. There is good philosophical reason for this. Sexual love receives its unique identity from the bodies of the two persons. It is plausible that when the body is destroyed at death, the love needs to be transformed. The maximal amount of continuous physical commitment that is possible lasts until the death of one of the parties. Given that romantic love calls for the deepest possible union at all levels of the person, especially including the physical level, it is plausible that romantic love calls for something like this kind of commitment, namely for a marriage “until death do us part.”
Granted, after death, there will be a resurrection of the glorified body, Christians believe. However, marriage is a natural state of human beings, while this resurrection is something supernatural. It is no surprise if marriage does not, then, outlast death.
At the same time, the form of love should always take into account the relevant particularities of the persons’ relationship. One’s love for a deceased spouse, while not a properly marital love, should have a form particular to love for a deceased spouse, a love that differs from the love for a deceased child. In this life, we might call this “widowed love”. We can see that widowed love is not the same as marital love from the fact that widowed love for a deceased spouse can legitimately continue even after the widow or widower remarries. And it is particularly in the case of remarriage that it is essential that the widow love not be a marital love—it is unfortunate to be married to someone who has a marital love for a deceased spouse. The difficulties involved in this change of form in the love help justify the grudging nature of the Church’s traditional acceptance of remarriage after a spouse’s death (e.g., 1 Cor. 7:8-9).
In heaven, the possibility of continuing interaction will presumably transform the widowed love into some other form of love qualified by the shared history of marriage, a form we can only guess at.