Maybe you've paid attention to press given to emergency airplane landings occuring recently. Pilots can be heard stating the number of "souls on board". This number is meant to include every living person on board- ticketed or not- so that a child riding on a parent's lap and crew members are counted as well. The phrase hails from the maritime world and has since eeked it's way into aviation.
I have always liked the word soul and as inferred above, it is living and breathing. True enough. But after a person passes, isn't their soul still alive? I have always thought so. There are times I swear I could feel my grandpa chuckling at something silly I've done. I've been to parties where the air's chemistry seems altered because of an indefinable presence. I've heard people discuss someone who has passed but apparently wants to be among a group that their spirit is palpable.
So I like to think of souls as living, breathing things-- physically present or not. Perhaps just floating out there swooping in when needed for comfort, a nudge in the right direction, hovering nearby for unseen protection, or just a little reminder that their spirit lives on long after their body has left.
I know I want to be recognized and felt long after my body is gone. Or maybe I am just too much of a squeaky wheel and can't stand the thought of not being heard or remembered. Or maybe it's just my whacky coping mechanism for losses I can't understand. No matter. For me it's real. That's the part that really counts.