Excellent question. The semantic function of 'meaning' .. assigning value or implication to a stated proposition .. can be the same in both abstract and concrete scenarios. But with abstract concepts (like 'life') it is far more difficult to establish clarity because there are so many valid possibilities. All language is essentially a mapping, words mapped to underlying definitions by convention. Useful results of that mapping grow more difficult as subject matter is further abstracted.
That's why metaphor is often a powerful tool to make abstract notions more understandable. By its own definition (Lakoff, 1980) it maps the abstract to the concrete.
Can't help but turn to Wittgenstein's classic quote: "The limits of my language mean the limits of my world" Tractatus, 5.6 (1921). This provides a famous example of the use of meaning in philosophy, while shedding light on both langage and it's role in mapping value among abstract concepts. It's hard to talk about meaning without using it in a sentence. Even for Wittgenstein.
Also need to give Kant a nod on this one. His nominal definiton of 'truth' in Critique of Pure Reason "agreement of knowledge with its object" CPR(A) Part 2, Transcendental Logic III, is equally telling. Here Kant again demonstrates the importance of semantic mapping, in pursuit of understanding. In his framing, as I understand it, the predicate of an analytic proposition provides immediate elucidation of a subject, while a synthetic prosposition expands that meaning by relating the subject to other subjects. In either case, we are still mapping A to B, in order to establish meaning of the subject, or more specifically, to clarify knowledge. There is certainly more to the story from Kant, but since I am still deep reading CPR, I best stop here. I am just at the edge of my understanding of his Categories.
In modern terms, I'd argue it's about creating context, a critical obligation for those who traffic in the understanding of abstract notions. Philosophers, for example. Hope this helps.