Prompt: What was the arc of their life journey?

What was the arc of their life journey?

  • What were they working through?

  • Where were they heading towards- as they themselves may have shared?

  • What do their struggles say about their spirit?

The overarching intent within the Spirit Altars program is to honor the fullness of a lost beloved- this includes the sweet as well as the stinky, the light as well as the dark.

We are each complex beings whose life journeys have been circuitous. We have arrived at how we currently find ourselves in the world due to the circumstances, choices and experiences of our past. The 'value' of a choice or experience cannot fully be measured by its immediate impact, but must be weighed against a larger arc of a lifetime. A decision that felt poor at the time may offer us the insight and conviction to radically change our life. Often it is former gang members or drug abusers who are most capable of helping those currently embroiled and struggling. Usually it requires a severe experience in order to place the awareness deep in our bones of the value of X (life, love, family, etc).

This is the normal arc of our lives- we have experiences and those enable us to grow into who we will next become, a cycle that continues until we are no longer here. Often there is more turbulence when we are younger for it is the accumulation of these experiences that brings us wisdom and helps take us to the path of alignment with our higher self.

There are several aspects of this concept that can make the grieving difficult.

Among the many hard parts of losing someone to what we might consider 'poor life choices' is that the arc of their journey is cut short. You may have witnessed your child or friend or parent descend down a path that felt clearly destructive and you were powerless to change it. You tried to be supportive but they were under their own control and did what felt right to them, even as it may have been harming them. In the larger arc there could be the potential for radical change. And perhaps you witnessed phases of that- of sobering, of leaving abusive relationships, of self-awareness and the desire to redefine themselves. But that was never fully realized. And so the dark path which may have led to a truly bright one, ended in darkness.

You may understandably feel judgement for what feels like poor choices. This complicates the grieving process, for not only are we dealing with their loss, but we are contending with our own internal conflict- we are blaming them (and possibly angry at them) for what befell, but we feel bad for this feeling, which muddies up our deeper feelings of love (which is at the heart of all this or else their death wouldn't matter to us). This brings guilt, a feeling which retards healing.

Or we may blame ourselves. Perhaps you showed 'tough love', or perhaps out of self-preservation, you turned away from them entirely. This may deepen the sense of guilt that you 'didn't do enough' for them. Or on a different note you may feel that you had a hand in the choices they made and therefore feel guilt around their trajectory. Perhaps you were a stern or unavailable parent, or perhaps you were a bad influence. We cannot know how our actions will impact another. We can only know if we are acting with love in our heart or not- and even then we cannot fully know the impact.

Each individual is here fully independent, fully operating under their own volition to create and engage their own life as feels right to them. Each individual comes into this world with an energy that is unique to them and, as parents know, this energy generally is consistent from the time they were born. What might impact one sibling may have none whatsoever on the other. My wife felt through most of her growing up that her father felt she wasn't good enough. But when she finally brought this up to him, in their conversation she came to see that it was she herself who brought with her into this world that feeling, which would come into play whenever she didn't receive the type of praise that would have her feel otherwise- and even then that would be shirt-lived. This feeling showed up in other areas of her life and is still something she contends with to this day. (On the flipside, and pertinent to this discussion, whatever is at the heart of this feeling in her also has her being an incredibly empathetic and compassionate person.)

Bottom line: We are each here to complete our own life journey. And we have less influence over each other than we might credit or blame ourselves for.

In considering how the journey of your beloved speaks to the nature of their spirit, look beyond the struggle into what that struggle was about- what was their spirit trying to bring into their life? What appreciation can you find for what this says about their essence as a fellow human being having the life experience? And can you offer yourself forgiveness for how you feel you may have contributed or not done enough to shift their journey?

As with all the prompts, take time to consider the question, write down some answers, and try to find items that represent your responses. Shying away from what feels negative does not help with the healing- reframing can. The items that seem to represent 'the dark' can actually offer a deeper honoring to their spirit as it enables us to release our judgement and accept them for their fullness- struggles, poor choices, and all.

I wish you well in your own journey. And I am here for support. If you appreciate this prompt, consider what the full, individualized program and dedicated support can offer you.