Early notions of mania invoked a combination of psychogenic and organic factors, but psychogenic mania has not endured as a concept. We present a 37-year-old woman with an acute manic episode precipitated by the prolonged death of her husband from cancer. To our knowledge this is the first published account of ‘maniacal grief’ in the absence of pre-existing affective disorder, and with clear causal relations. Mania was clearly induced by the bereavement and we argue that the loss represented more than a non-specific life event. This case supports a re-examination of mania as potentially a ‘reactive’ or psychogenic phenomenon.