There is a whole division of sociology that studies death and dying. We don't have room for that in our schedule, but it comes up as part of our discussion of American culture and Tuesdays With Morrie so I wanted to post about it.
Dancing on the Grave, by Nigel Barley. You can read an excerpt here, but the important point that Barley makes is that grief and mourning are different. All cultures mourn death, that is they have rituals for dealing with death, but grieving is an emotion and is not part of all cultures. Grief is a fairly modern concept and is tied into the development of individualism and (in my opinion) materialism. We see each individual as separate and less connected to other individuals than our ancestors did. So death represents the loss of an individual. And because our modern culture is so wrapped up in material things, it is hard to get by the loss of the physical individual. Instead we could see that person in all of us - we are all impacted by one another. The love we share is a part of us. Like Morrie said, "Death ends a life, not a relationship." We have trouble with that.