For me, an event that looms as large and final as death is best framed in existential terms, where the death of a loved one becomes an object of our consciousness, and we become the conscious mind that must wrap itself around this object.
Relationships play a fundamental role in the coherence of our psyches, and when these end we are left with a hole that corresponds in depth to the meaning that that relationship held for us.
In this way, death threatens the stability around which we have lived our lives, because although we miss the person who is no longer here, we also miss who we were as a result of having that person in our lives. In this way, object and observer become the inseparable duality that they are. That is why the death of another can make us feel as though a part of us has also died.
The unity of the self is fragmented until we can fill that empty space, that void. And we know we can never fill it with what was lost, because the singularity of each conscious being, not to mention the gestalt of how we interacted with that being, make such a duplication impossible.
Over time, we have experiences of living without the loved one, as well as conscious memories of reflecting on their death. Both of these serve to fill the black hole in our psyches, at the same time that they give us a perspective on the loss of the departed.
It is this perspective, growing over time and creating the necessary distance from the intense emotional experience, that allows us to transform our painful loss.
In this way, death becomes a fact from the past that we cannot alter, but our future contains all possibilities, including the freedom to frame that loss on a canvas of our own making.
For the departed, death is a fait accompli; the curtain drawn on a final scene.
For those left behind, it is a work-in-progress.