I think I am pretty well-versed in dealing with death. For one, I have often claimed that my own ultimate demise is not a matter of fear for me. I mean, we are mortal, all of us, every single one of us, so what is the big deal. I am confident of having taken some from and given some to bountiful Mother Earth. Disbelieving in the after-life and so on, to me, death is the ultimate closure on everything - the good and the bad. While I cannot claim to expecting nothing, I feel like I am getting to that place, where I expect less and less from others, from myself, and from this life in general.
On the other hand, I flip that coin, and I find myself preaching (mostly internally, of course) about potential, and not disappearing in middling mediocrity, and performance, and passion and so forth. Which is of course, somewhat inconsistent a philosophy, as philosophies go, when coupled with the lack of expectations aspect.
I find in the recesses of my brain, these two statements, on refrain-
* Life is short, hold it by the horns and live it to the fullest
& Life is long, let it go, don't stress about it.
On the surface, this is inconsistent as well. Most times, I know what I am thinking when I am thinking either of these thoughts. At the same time, I know that each of these thoughts separately is meaningless and merely a rationalisation for something that has occurred and needs to be sorted out, mentally.
Ultimately, when I ponder death is when I see the meaning and the meaningless of everything - the material things, the feelings, the emotions, the passion - just everything that constitutes me as a person and my life as a construct.
So in all I would expect that when confronted by death - of a dear friend, of a friend's child, of a relative, of a famous person - I would deal with it well, with equanimity, and dignity, and without self-references aloud but with genuine exploration of thoughts and feelings within myself. I think I get there ultimately, back to my positive persona that you and you see, but still death has me a bit, how to say it, crumpled.
Yes, a crumpled feeling. A quick warmth in the eyes, as I hold back the tears, that show up on cue. A few (or several) hours of dejection. An early morning awakening with a sense of un-reality, a 'Uff Thank Heavens It Was All Just A Dream' feeling, an immediate anger when I remember that it is no dream, a need to SHOUT out, a need to vent, a reluctance to vent to the wrong people, a fear of hurt if someone says the wrong thing (I bet it sounds right to them!), all this and more. In short, I think I am good with it in theory, but when confronted by the actual loss, when I hear of someone's death, when I walk in to a room of puffy faced relatives, when I dig deep and manage to say the usual platitudes, I am not good. My heart beats faster. I lose my words...