I went to a talk yesterday by Norman Fischer, who among other roles is the teacher for the Everyday Zen Foundation. The talk was about consciousness, which I gathered is something like the river--everyone and everything is in the river; when the water goes over the falls we see the individual drops for awhile, then they fall into the river again. Consciousness (though not individual consciousness) goes on after the individual dies.
During the Q and A session, Norman mentioned being with people when they die and simply marveling at their bravery. How do they do it? Yet they do. They are unimaginably brave at that moment. I had a similar experience when my father died. It was a terrible moment, but I was so proud of him.