If it’s about zombies, it’s about mourning, and we’re presented with two kinds of pathological mourning. First, the negation of the negation: we see the Governor in denial and not letting go– of his daughter’s hair as he brushes it, by sheer will alone he has ended her death and kept her undead, but this kind of grief results in obsessive control of the present, a stand against change, and his society building and experiments searching for a “cure” are the neurotic’s busy activity which guard against inevitability.
In the other extreme, Rick has fully accepted his wife’s death (which is why you never see her as a zombie) but is consumed by vengeful rage, so he abandons life to spend time amongst the dead– after all, that’s where his wife is.
The interesting thing to note is that in these contrasting and dramatic depictions of pathological mourning, the story simply doesn’t care about the boy’s mourning at all. Not only did he lose his mother, it was left to him to put his mother to rest, and the most he gets is “he’s been through a lot,” and in this we see yet another poignant depiction of American narcissism: it only pretends to care for its children, through overinvestment and overparenting, but leaves it up to them to redeem the narcissistic generation that preceded them.
And yet still they do not call them zombies.