If there is a person who died at the age of 90 and a baby who died at one year old, what is the difference between them afterwards? They are both in a state of nothingness, they cannot remember or enjoy anything, so by this view does the way they lived matter?
This question is an excellent way to start philosophy. Which is to say, it will need a lot of philosophy to answer it.
Really you are asking, what meaning does a life have, after it's ended? And you can extend that, we know the cosmos will unravel its entropy, in the long Heat Death or Big Rip, leaving nothing behind as far as we know. So what will have been the point, in the long run?
"Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death.
Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
-Shakespeare, MacBeth, Scene 5
It is an old problem.
And, I would describe it as a key engine of the need, rather than choice, for philosophy. We learn the history of thinkers, the names of schools and argumentative positions. But the real purpose is: answering this.
I argue here that the prominance of this problem is an artifact of our focus on individualism, and a shift towards recognising what we inherit and will pass on can be therapy: Is Death a Feature or a Bug? Stewardship, rather than ownership, of our world, as the proper view.
I argue here that the social apportioning of symbolic immortality is critical to how we structure societies and shape behaviour: What are some philosophical works that explore constructing meaning in life from an agnostic or atheist view?
The brute wrestling with the meaningless and irrelevance of our lives in the wider scheme of the world are central topics for Existentialism and Absurdism. Essentially, we are forced to recognise that meaning involves subjectivity, we cannot find it out there, we must make it out of the strands of our own lives, and accept what we make may only matter to us, in our brief strut and fret on a stage where we are really the only audience.
Stoicism takes the view of focusing on what we can change and accepting what we cannot. Much like Buddhism. Death is inevitable, it is healthy to recognise that, to face it, to meditate on it. Yet, what we have come to define as meaning, has always coexisted with that.
So, what is meaning? What does it mean? I give my answer here: According to the major theories of concepts, where do meanings come from?
No one can answer this question for you. That is the nature of subjectivity. Philosophy can point you towards tools for a meaningful life. But, you must be the one to use them. Good luck.
I've felt this way much of my life, so forgive the lack of research.
It's true that without happiness my life is bad, if not entirely worthless. Add that my past happiness - and when I'm dead it's only in the past - is not relevant to whether I am happy now (it may seem like little consolation that I was happy if we're sad or indeed dead) and you have the beginning of some puzzle.
One simple way to solve it is to say that happiness that is forever (are we happiness addicts?) isn't what we mean by happiness and a well lived life (or at least that not having it is OK).
Another alternative is to say that not being at all happy now (which includes dead people) does not mean we miss out on all happiness (and dying can only rob us of some happiness). The latter is a legitimate concern, but it is illegitimately extended if only my happiness now counts as happiness.
If you had examined your own question you could have certainly found the answer.
Why do you think of the life after death to find the answer to this question? Do you think the life of all 90-year-old men and all 1-year-old children are alike? Aren't there any ages in between these two ages?
That will definitely make you think this: “What would be the life on the earth like if all lives were alike?” The problem with your question is that before posting this question you didn’t think about more aspects of life.
If you see any differences in the lives of the two mentioned here, there must be some reason behind it. If there is a difference, that difference would never be one that emerged abruptly.
Without thinking too much about one's posthumous life, one must make one's present life meaningful. This is never impossible. When one gets the answer to this doubt while alive, he will never ask about this 'posthumous doubt'.
The purpose of life is to endure in the Self and to stay in the Sahaja state by the jnana marga(knowledge road). The meaning of the present birth is to turn within and realize the self. All other purposes in life are secondary. The highest goal of man is to enquire “Who am I” and realize the self.