First I heard of the upcoming death was an article in the paper describing Superman's killer as an escapee from an intergalactic mental hospital. It was actually just a few months ago that I found out that this tidbit was taken from an offhand comment Mike Carlin made about Doomsday's motivations. The last time I had heard about anything Superman related in the news would have been a fairly short time before that blurb announcing that Joe Shuster had passed away - strange timing.
Although I figured Superman would be back, I didn't know how long he'd be gone for. A year? Year and a half? When DC later got rid of Bruce Wayne for that amount of time I lost enough interest in the titles that I've never really been able to go back with any great amount of enthusiasm.
Although I can now look back and see that this was a pretty lousy story - seven issues of Superman punching a big dumb monster/Big dumb monster punching Superman - at the time I didn't really think along those lines. I don't think I had enough experience with bad comics at that time to really recognize one...until I opened up my copy of Superman and read it. Even at 13 I could tell this wasn't a good story. Nothing but giant splash pages of Superman once again punching Doomsday and being punched back. I would have thought a death of Superman story would have contained some poignancy - a last message from Superman, last moment/words with Lois - but there was nothing. I thought Funeral for a Friend was much better and lost interest in the four Supermen fairly early on. What felt strange were those empty Next Issue boxes in the letters page for Action/Adventure/etc in those final issues of the funeral. "There is no information on Superman 78 at this time" "There is no information on Action Comics 688 at this time" "There is..."
I also remember the trading cards that came out at this time - I think they were released the same day at Superman 75 - and how any images of Batman had to be replaced with Captain Marvel due to DC not owning the licence of Batman for trading cards at this time. There was a decent parody comic released as well - Death of Stupidman which was actually pretty funny. Interesting thing about this was that it was released with two different covers and two different interiors (each one contained a different six page sequence or so than the other).
Surprisingly, the best thing to come out of the death in my opinion however, was the special Wizard released at the time. Including interviews with Alvin Schwartz about the earliest Superman/Batman team-ups and Mort Weisgner; Eliot Maggin about who Superman is and what purpose Clark Kent serves in his life; articles in which various creators relate their favorite Superman stories; a Who's Who of Superman's cast of characters both pre and post Crisis; this magazine remains a valuable and fascinating look at the character.