"Nothing that has happened in my life since [I learned of my mother's death], nothing I believe and nothing I know, can provide consolation. This is why I suspect that I am in some way predisposed not to believe in God, because God is the only thing that could have provided solace... If I had felt that there was an afterlife, believe me, I would have killed myself then and there to join her." - Alom Shaha, The Young Atheist's Handbook.
Death happens, constantly. And, as social animals, the fact of it can hit us hard - especially when confronted with the loss of a friend, or relative.
I've been to funerals, but never of anyone I had very many memories of or of people especially close to me. I have seen close family members heavy with grief themselves though, and it's hard not to sympathise. Death clearly hurts.
The closest I guess I can come to empathising, and I know it may sound silly (even insensitive, as I began with a quote of Alom describing his feelings towards the death of his mother), is when I think of my experience with the death of not a person, but our old family dog. This animal, I'm sure, was one of the most caring creatures I will ever meet. I understand that it may be wrong to ascribe care, such a seemingly human attribute, to this dog - but I don't mind if I'm wrong in doing so; care was what I felt.
She was immensely protective. She would, I'm told, follow me around as a toddler on days out at the park giving other dogs she mistrusted evil eyes, which was enough to turn them away. She would, I can clearly remember, silently stand guard at night, without prompting, at the door to our tent if we were ever camping; only coming in to sleep once all of us had woken up the next day. In fact, each time, we'd try to get her in before settling down, but she'd insist on sitting there in the dark.
Most of all, she was the only dog I have ever known to simply refuse to fetch a stick. It's not that she was lazy, or unfit - she'd just rather be by your side (and, I like to think, saw the game for what it really was: pointless).
I adored her, as everyone who came into contact with her did - so finding her dead and stiff at the bottom of the stairs as I walked out of my room ready for school one morning was crushing. I had to step over the cold (I'd checked) corpse of this friend to go upstairs and tell my parents.
I can only imagine what hearing of the death of my Mother at a similar age would have been like...