A friend's words kicked me off. Actually, two friends'. So here I am, trying to explain my concept of spiritual death. It's harder than I expected. I guess that's what I get for trying to employ syncretism without giving rise to bullshit.
We were all raised inside of certain structures of meaning. To live for our family, our country, our god, our philosophical principles... these and other imperatives were set up before we were really available for comment.
While growing up we also added our own personal wishes for what we wanted out of life: the dream of a future role or career, the dream of being with a particular person... things we innocently decided would "make it all worthwhile."
The universe has no meaning. When we set up a meaning, or adopt one as it is presented to us, from that moment on we are responsible for it. We are responsible for believing in it and for answering any "challenge" the universe may "dish out" that makes all our efforts seem pointless.
This is exhausting. It's self-defeating. So each person eventually refutes all their most important meanings and starts over from zero (spiritual death), or decides to ignore aspects of reality that do not fit their structure.
These latter, spiritually dead-ended people are doomed to spend the rest of their lives shoring up their own meanings that they carried over from childhood... (or face the spiritual death they refuse to accept...)
While the spiritually dead may re-emerge, consciously creating their own meaning from nothing, knowing that this is all essentially play... and that it doesn't matter in the way we thought it did...