Last time I read the parable of the prodigal son, I noticed something I hadn't seen before.
As background, here is something that had been plain for awhile: when the son asked for his inheritance while his father was still alive, it was the same as saying his father was nothing to him, that his father might as well be dead for all the son cared about him, and the only thing he wanted was his inheritance. (It also meant his brother was nothing to him.)
What crossed my mind this time was how that connects to the father's response, when the son comes home seeking reconciliation. The father says, "This son of mine was dead and is alive again" (Luke 15:24). The same thought is brought up again when the father speaks to the older brother who had stayed home, "This brother of yours was dead and is alive again" (Luke 15:32).
If we assume the father's view is right, then when the prodigal son wishes his family dead and cuts himself off, the one who is "as good as dead" is actually the prodigal. In considering other people "dead to him", he's the one who dies inside.