I felt a disturbance... such a sad loss to all. His imagination and perception was his very being.
In my tradition, when someone of exceptional merit - intellectual achievement, moral grit, etc - dies, we understand this loss to the community (in the global sense) is a call to action. Our job is to consider - honestly and without embellishment - the character traits this person had, and how the loss of those traits will affect us. We then have to endeavor - in our own small way - to integrate one of those character elements into ourselves.
In this way, if a person who was monetarily generous dies, several people rise up to try to fill that gap. The same for a brilliant teacher, a gifted storyteller, an inspiring leader.
This is the reasoning behind the phrase "May their memory be a blessing."
My fervent hope is that Professor Hawking is even now dancing across the ocean of space, and laughing with joy at what he sees.
A friend of my wrote and performed and recorded a song about the people who came before us, who blazed the trails we walk, and upon whose shoulders we rest.
The song describes their contributions, and imparts a feeling of appreciation and dependence on those folks who held the sky up for us, as if they were big trees.
And it asks "Who will hold the sky up, now the big trees are down."
And the answer comes at the end of the song. It's common sense, and is a call to action and duty to honor those who came before us. Leon, your comments immediately made me thing of this song, and of the people who made our world possible for us, and our obligation to them.