My mother was my due north, my compass in all things, my greatest cheerleader, my partner in mischief, the champion of my dreams, knowing when to advise and when to remain silent. She gave me permission to soar and was the proverbial "wind beneath my wings."
Needless to say, we are not taught how to face our own death or that of a loved one, and are likely to panic in death's presence. So start by recognizing this state of affairs, and don't pressure yourself to "do it right."
Bear witness to what is happening inside yourself. Are you shocked? Angry? Unable to listen? In denial? Wanting to believe this is a lab error? These are all perfectly normal responses, but they do not serve as a solid foundation from which to respond to the situation.
I can't say that my father was ready for death or that any of us was ready for him to go. But I believe that thanks to hospice care, and some miracle of timing and life force and will that I will never quite understand, my dad's death was as beautiful as a death can be.
These were the people who shaped lives, who shaped my life. They weren't famous enough to get an obituary in the big newspapers. But they were the people who cared, who gave me moments each day that I looked forward to.