Joseph Epstein in Commentary:
Fortunate is the person who has reached the age of 50 without having had to grieve. To be among the grieving, the bereaved, is an experience most of us go through, excepting only those who die preternaturally young and are themselves the cause of bereavement. The death of a parent, a husband or wife, a brother or sister, a dear friend, in some ways saddest of all, a child, is among the major causes of grief. May grief be avoided? Ought it to be? Is there any sense in which, as Charlie Brown’s favorite phrase had it, there is good grief?
Socrates held that one of the key missions of philosophy was to ward off our fear of death. Upon his own death, by self-imposed hemlock, he claimed to be looking forward at long last to discovering whether there was an afterlife. Montaigne wrote an essay called “To Philosophize Is to Learn How to Die,” in which, as elsewhere in his essays, he argues that, far from putting death out of mind, we should keep it foremost in our minds, the knowledge of our inevitably forthcoming death goading us on the better to live our lives.