Region: Middle Earth
All of this talk about the First and Second Ages, about Numenor and about Valinor made me remember an important aspect of the world created by Tolkien. I haven't mentioned it in my above post, but I got reminded of it after watching that youtube video linked above, so I'll share it here to be kept for posterity.
Its probably not worth talking more about it since it tackles religion and religious beliefs, even if its confined to the world of Tolkien.
Anyway, Eru gave Elves their own gift and Humans their own gift.
Elves, as much as the Valar, they are part of the world created by Eru, and can never leave it; they remain, either with a physical form or as a spirit. They never fully cease to exist (even Melkor / Morgoth who was cast away in the Void is said to return again at the "end of the world", so the essence of his soul is not lost in the Void), and so are bound to his creation.
Humans, and other lesser beings (like Hobbits, for example) do have a soul, it ends up in the Halls of Mandos, but from there it goes to an undisclosed destination that not even the Valar know. This was the gift of the Men, to have shorter lives but to have a purpose after death and not to be bound by the world of Eru (to not be part of it after death, and its not just to be expelled into the Void, since they'll meet with Morgoth who's still alive there). And, of course, they had to "blindly" trust that purpose, because no Man ever returned to say what it was about and no Elf or Valar knows what it is about. This made many Men speculate its all a trick and sought the immortality of the Elves, since it was something they could see, touch, feel - rather than the abstract notion of something after their death.
So you could see the similarities with our own world and why I have to thread carefully while talking about this. It would be interesting to see any opinion on this matter, regarding what could be the "destiny" or "purpose" that Eru has with the men after their death, or if its just a theological aspect; personally, I think that it is something more, since if its just a Garden of Eden then Elves have that blissful Undying Lands that act as a Garden of Eden for their souls. So it must be something more than that. Obviously, what ... we'll never know.