It could be theoretically argued that the tendency to personify things extends outwards to all boundaries of human existence, as a sort of inevitable anthropocentrism which permeates all facets of our perception due to qualities which are inescapably ingrained in our consciousness: i.e. that a human recognizes their own humanity, as its species essence, is a rather unique feature, even though it might sound mundane. The symbolic realm arguably derives from this, and if said realm does indeed owe its origins to such a tendency, then it would make sense for it to always be 'textured' with the recurrence of specifically human imagery. Even animals, as we often depict them, are more or less projections of our own sense of mythos… representational metaphors–a fox, for example, is not 'just a fox', but is connotated as 'sneaky, mischievous, suave–an archetypal trickster', etc.
People will probably accuse me of coming off as overly Jungian, but I'm not really much of a subscriber to him, that is, outside of the base realization that there's probably some kind of innate anthropocentric lens which colors our figurative ideals of reality. So at any rate, I don't think the phenomenon spoken of here is so exclusive to death, although at the same time, I guess the 'coping theory' isn't mutually exclusive with what I'm saying either.