My father died seven years ago (Wow can it really have been that long? I still think of him every day and when something interesting happens, I imagine talking to him about it) and I don't think about death the same way that I did then.
I remember the moment he died, I no longer wanted to touch his body;
the thought of touching a corpse disgusted me. I imagined his "real" self floating above us in the room watching. Now I prefer Whitman's idea of death (I don't have it in front of me, so I'm paraphrasing here), " There is really no death, and if there is, it brings forth life instead of waiting at the end to arrest it." Or at the end of The Golden Compass trilogy, where people's souls disintegrate back into Dust after death instead of staying trapped on some other plane of existence.
My father wanted to be cremated, but my grandmother wanted him buried in his hometown next to my grandfather and where she would someday lie. We acceded to her wishes. She paid for the funeral, the coffin, and everything. I never could have, since I was completely broke at the time. The funeral industry really takes grieving relatives for a ride.
I thought he looked awful, lying there in the coffin. He did not look like himself at all. The people who prepared his body did not love him or even know him. We feel so uncomfortable about death in our culture, that we pay someone else to take care of everything for us. I did not wash my father's body after he died. I did not carefully dress him in his best clothes. I did not kiss him goodbye. I did not help dig his grave or fill it back in. I did not gather wood for a funeral pyre. At the time, I could not have done any of those things.
I grieve for that loss almost as much as I grieve for his self. Perhaps part of the reason our culture hates death so much is that by outsourcing all of those things, we never got a proper sense of closure. Death is something foreign that happens in hospitals and funeral homes, not an ordinary, everyday matter.