I did know a rock climber who fell off one day and was in a coma for 6 months. He made a full recovery (although he was more careful with climbing) and actually became a much more lively and outgoing person. He said that being close to death made him realise it can happen at any time, and to make the most of what he'd got.
I don't know if I agree with Elric's idea of an afterlife or reincarnation (although I obviously don't know myself). Although buddhism suggests reincarnation, it is not always considered as an actual reincarnation of your life after you have died - often it is considered as a reincarnation of the 'self' when you change your behaviour and habitual patterns in this life; thus changing your karma.
It may be easier to accept death if one thinks of there being some continuation. However, for me I believe that everything is change, and after this life, I won't exist. This is not too much of a worry, because I also think that linear time is something that we experience because we're humans (and of course animals are the same), so in some respects this life I am lving will last forever, because it will always have been.
The great thing about death is that it comes to everyone, so no matter what you suffer, what you try to achieve, what status you have, or how wealthy you are, there is no ultimate meaning or benefit of it. Just like an aikido grading, the benefit of one's actions are intrinsic within themselves.
Anyway, too much philosophy for a Monday morning!