Many people feel there must be a purpose to being human, a meaning to all the suffering in the world. There has to be an after that rights all the wrongs and keeps our identities eternal. I hold no such beliefs. Once our lives are over, what makes us who we are disappears.
For some that happens sooner, rather than later. Terry Pratchett is one of the many examples of losing oneself before death through Alzheimer. Other diseases may cause a change of identity. Various forms of damage to the brain brings about dysfunctions we did not previously have.
If I had to dig up one meaning to life, it would be the instinct to spread our genetic material as far and wide as possible. Humans seem to excel at that to an extent that makes war a regular occurrence in a struggle for resources. For a species that prides itself on its development away from instincts (yes, some of my professors actually thought that was the case), we have remarkably low instinct-control.
Rant: Prevention people! It has been around for quite some time. Perhaps lowering birth numbers would help so the interval between wars might increase. I doubt Death would miss the work.
Sometimes I hear the argument that death cannot be the end of all. In a sense, such arguments are correct. Energy is as old as our universe and it certainly does not disappear into empty air once we die. What happens after death is a fascinating and gross process that changes the way our energy expresses itself. This quote gives a great description of the transformation of energy that happens upon death:
In terms of physical energy, the difference between a living body and a very recently dead body is just a question of how that energy is being organized. Living critters in general are very good at using chemical energy for things like moving, growing, etc. Newly dead critters have about the same amount of chemical energy, it’s just that they don’t use it. Instead, whatever comes along to consume the body uses it (whether that’s fire or decomposition or whatever). ()
Knowing that I, metaphorically speaking, have existed since the Big Poof and shall continue to do so in ever changing forms until nothing is left of the universe is freaking amazing.