Anyway: I'm not blessed, or merciful. I'm just me. I've got a job to do, and I do it. Listen: even as we're talking, I'm there for old and young, innocent and guilty, those who die together and those who die alone. I'm in cars and boats and planes; in hospitals and forests and abbatoirs. For some folks death is a release, and for others death is an abomination, a terrible thing. But in the end, I'm there for all of them.
Death, in Dream Country

Death is a manifestation of The Endless, a family of metaphorical personifications created by Neil Gaiman for The Sandman series of comic books which told the story of her brother Morpheus aka Dream. The others are Destiny, Desire, Despair, Destruction, and Delirium who used to be Delight. Of all the characters from Gaiman's stories, perhaps Death has triggered the most favoritism and positive response, because of the incredibly sensible and ideal approach he took with the character.

In one way or another, so many fear the idea of death; shuffling off this mortal coil and venturing off either into an unknown afterlife or just fading away into oblivion. There are countless beliefs throughout Mankind's history about what awaits us when we die. It is admittedly a combination of guesswork and blind faith because objectively speaking, we just don't know. We think we're right, and where we question our own beliefs, that's where the faith comes in. Though this character is the embodiment of death, she's not exactly what one might expect; instead she is what most people probably hope to find waiting for them after they've closed their eyes for the final time.

In Gaiman's world, there is no Grim Reaper. Gaiman's approach was to personify Death as a sensitive female with tender-hearted compassion for the individual, humor, and a very careful but not fastidious respect for her work. To her, it's a job. It is not something to relish and cause horror. It is not an opportunity to give each person a mad This Is Your Life presentation. She has a function to perform in the universe. She meets the person at the time of their death (sometimes a bit of time before) and tries to ease their shock a little bit, as she helps them get to where their soul is supposed to go.

You lived what anybody gets. You got a lifetime.
Death, in Brief Lives

She dresses provocative, but casual. She prefers black, but not out of mourning or to make a fashion statement. Contrary to popular opinion, she is not Goth; or rather if she is, she has been for a very long time, and the designation would not mean anything to her. If ever asked, she'd probably just shrug and explain she happens to like black.* She wears an ankh necklace, which is her sigil. She can change clothes in an instant to appeal to whomever is her charge at the time, but prefers a simple black tanktop and jeans if given the choice. She is easy on the eyes but not flashy, and her personality is one of an individual you would like to meet, but not necessarily get to know too well. **

Death is the oldest sister of the seven Endless, but she has one brother older than she: Destiny. She perhaps has the best relationship with each of the others, and rarely involves herself in the complicated politics of her family. She is also ironically enough, the most centered and psychologically stable of her family. Considering what her character would have to go through every day, one would think she'd be quite mad. Perhaps one of the reasons why she's so centered is because once a century she sort of takes a vacation. She walks among human beings as if she were one of them, and just appreciates their view of life. This keeps her in perspective, and allows her to approach her work in a kind and compassionate way, without being too cheesy about it. The comic book mini-series Death: the High Cost of Living shows her experience for the 20th century.

Quoting from Neil Gaiman about his creation: "Death {is} skinny and pale and elfin and sweet, with long dark hair and black clothes, and a silver ankh... There's a tale in the Caballa that suggests that the Angel of Death is so beautiful that on finally seeing it (or him, or her) you fall in love so hard, so fast, that your soul is pulled out through your eyes. I like that story."

In the end, Gaiman didn't want to create a Death that enjoyed her work too much, or who was painfully distressed and morose about her role. In his eyes, Death is simply someone who cares about the people whose lives she touches at the end, but not so much she can't detach herself and live her own existence. Though the second of The Endless to be bourne into existence, it is said in the Sandman series that she will be the last to go. When the final sunset has fallen on the final globe in space, and when the last star blinks out of the night's sky...

When the first living thing existed, I was there waiting. When the last living thing dies, my job will be finished. I'll put the chairs on the tables, turn out the lights, and lock the universe behind me as I leave.
Death, in Dream Country

Y'know what? I like that story.

* If you want to see what she looks like, there's some great fan-art over at
** Personally I'd like to get to know her very well, but then I'm a little loopy.