I've been fortunate to never lose any SL friends to RL mortality, but I've known people who have. The first time I experienced the death of a RL person in SL was when my SL Mentor's son passed away. It was probably the first time I really understood that even in SL we can't escape human tragedy. The family set up an in-world memorial and guests were able to set out floating candles with notes of remembrance. It was beautiful, but I think that eventually all of the prims were returned.
The second experience I had with the RL passing of an SL avatar was the death of Ginny Talamasca. I did not know Ginny personally but I was familiar with her work and loved her designs. When I heard the tragic news my eyes welled up and I spent a few melancholy days wandering the grid and contemplating the fragile nature of the human relative to the immortal avatar.
LDPW Memorial: Ginny Talamasca
Yesterday was the 2nd Annual Day of Remembrance in Second Life. It is a day to remember those avatars that have lost their RL people. The memorial was held at the new Linden Memorial Park created by the Linden Public Works Department. This park is intended to be a place for permanent memorials, peace, and contemplation. You can get more information about the park's inspiration and creation from Brent Linden's blog post or Dusty Linden's blog post.
The pictures of the park hardly do it justice, you'll need to visit to capture the full experience. And an interesting note to this story...while I was in the garden looking at the flowers people have planted to remember their loved ones a man dropped in. It was my SL mentor and he came to plant a flower for his son. I haven't seen him for over 2 years. SL is a very small world, isn't it?