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The Message of the Monarch on the First Anniversary of My Mom’s Passing

August 7, 2019

After thirty six days on the road, the first anniversary of my mom’s passing arrived. Many days on the road with stops in places across the northern United States has been a profound experience. The insights and awareness made through these new places and circumstances have been extremely valuable. However, they’ve come at the expense of the habits and practices that help me stay grounded and connected to the purpose behind this whole journey.

The major areas of challenge have been the consistency of eating and sub-optimal food choices. Additionally, I’ve had little opportunity to take the quiet time in nature for the introspection and connection that has been so incredibly powerful in giving me clarity and confidence about taking this leap.

As the year mark since my mom took her last breath approached, I felt some nervousness. How would I honor this milestone when there is so much else going on in my life? It would be easy for this day to pass without giving it the attention that I feel it deserves.

The night prior, it became clear to me how I should spend part of the next day. I would head out into nature the next morning to be alone with my thoughts and allow whatever messages to come to me about the significance of this day. I had no clue what those messages would be, but something told me that taking the time would help me with the grounding and connection that I sought.

The good friends we are staying with suggested a natural, wooded area and let me use their guidebook to help me navigate the trail.

Heading out with my camera and a small backpack, I turned on Strava on my phone to help me with GPS should the trails at all be confusing. I’m glad I did.

The walk started uneventfully. I passed an older couple with a small dog. “Where are you going to photograph?” the woman asked. “Oh, I just bring this with me should I come across something I feel I need to capture,” I responded as to why I have my heavy camera around my neck.

Why do I even have this? I wondered. I questioned whether I was even going to feel inspired to take any photos.

Inspiration comes through connection in nature

Over the past year, my connection and intuition has deepened. My intuitive guide, Vanessa, advised me that spending more time and connecting deeper with nature would bring me more answers and clarity. I didn’t even partially grasp at the time the changes that would come through this practice. That being the case, it took more than a month of her making this suggestion for me to actually take her up on her advice.

It started with me spending 10–15 minutes on the grass in my backyard without any electronics. I did that 4 days in a row, and I realized that I started dreaming again. I hadn’t even realized that I wasn’t dreaming until I became conscious of my dreams again.

That change prompted me to keep going, and I naturally began spending more time outside. I’d plan an hour of work or reading time outside in the grass or an hour long walk in the woods. All of this was without the distraction of technology. No podcasts or phone scrolling were allowed during this time (my rule).

What I found was that I became receptive to ideas and insights in a deep way that was not possible for me during the hustle and bustle of life. It allowed me to connect with something that was both outside and within me that I could not otherwise tap into. Every time I’d go out, I’d have a healing insight or ideas that gave me a deeper understanding of my life path that were otherwise difficult to access.

These experiences grew upon one another to allow for clarity and confidence regarding this new path that I aimed to forge with my family, which was essential for me in taking this giant leap.

The practice of connecting deeply in nature was developed enough that when I felt less grounded and the clarity of my path became a bit fuzzy just recently, I strongly sensed seeking some solitude among the trees would reconnect me.

Mostly, I wanted the opportunity to reflect upon my mom, my relationship with her, and what it all means. The decision to jump in this journey came through the lessons of her life and passing on, and remembering the why of this all felt necessary.

So, I walked.

Trusting the signs to navigate your path

When I came to forks within the trail, they weren’t marked, so I continued to go straight. I realized when I reached another parking lot that I missed the fork I needed to take to make this hike a loop.

Would this be a hike that I’ll constantly need to look at the GPS? I wondered. I always enjoyed hiking with John or someone else that was much better at navigating a hike, especially one with unmarked trails.

As I turned around to backtrack away from the parking lot, something caught my eye. A monarch butterfly was hanging out on the ground, and inspired me to take my first photo of the hike. It hung out there while I waited for my camera to turn on and I composed a shot. And then, I composed another.

I found myself paying this butterfly a good amount of attention. I was attracted to it in a way that I couldn’t quite put words to.

As I turned to walk away, the butterfly flew past and in front of me. It was like it was saying, “follow me”.

I continued to walk until I reached the first fork. I wondered if I should take this fork or go further. I took out my phone to look at the GPS. Then, a butterfly passed in front of me and proceeded up that path. The map on my phone confirmed this was probably a good path to take.

This path led me uphill to grassy mound with a covered picnic/barbecue area and another parking lot. Was this the wrong way again? A second later, another butterfly flew in my path. So, I walked a bit further, and I found the trail head to the Devil’s Bathtub trail. Yes, this was the right way.

As I walked, it became darker and cooler from the thicker tree canopy. It became extremely buggy. The well-traveled trail led me to a path that was less traveled, but was still a path. It seemed like it was headed in the right direction. So, I continued.

However, it became less clear if I was on the right path. I hadn’t seen another person in a while, the terrain required a lot more focus to navigate, and the bugs were annoying the crap out of me.

I kept seeing butterflies, and my GPS suggested that this was at least taking me in the right direction. I may have missed the easier path, but I felt a bit of confidence that this path would at least get me where I need to go.

As I continued to walk, navigate, and cross paths with monarchs, the insights came to me regarding my mom. There was an unshakable sense that these butterflies had a message for me.

Life & death viewed as transformation

The lily pads on the pond where my hike began and ended. © Amanda Richardson-Meyer

The word transformation entered my consciousness.

That’s it! My mom’s passing and what has come since has all been a transformation.

The first insight came that my mom passed on from her physical life here, leaving the roles and responsibilities behind. Throughout my mom’s life she took on the weight and responsibility of her children and family’s happiness at the expense of her own. Giving priority to her own needs and dreams in life often took a backseat. Her passing allowed her to transform and free herself. Passing on was not a horrible thing for her. She is okay.

Next, this process has allowed a transformation within me. I was previously holding back on life, almost afraid to detach from my parents. I possessed a misperception of the concept of permanence. It was difficult for me to grasp the true concept of time, as I passively went through life not designing my own life experience. I planned to do the things I dreamed of doing, but I’d do them some day, rather actively working towards making them a reality.

Through the experience of my mom passing and this year that has followed, I’ve transformed my approach to how I accept life. I’ve realized that I have the tools to navigate my path. I don’t need to cling to my parents and be scared of taking the path I feel called to take. There’s a metaphorical GPS that will redirect me on my path. I’m on the right path, even if it’s different than what is considered normal or it’s uncomfortable at times.

The insights that I received were what I was seeking on this walk. As I made the turns that would loop me back to my starting point, I was feeling extremely satisfied with this walk.

I felt apprehensive at first that this connection would be difficult to find again since it hadn’t been part of my routine for the past month or so. It wasn’t though. The connection was strong and obvious.

A message from the monarchs

A final message came to me. Make sure to research the life cycle and meanings of monarch butterflies.

I knew the monarch butterflies migrated to Mexico and relied upon milkweed, but I didn’t know much else.

That night, I remembered I needed to look this up, and I was blown away by what I found.

Regarding their life cycles, beginning in the spring, the first, second, and third generations live for only two to six weeks. However, the fourth generation makes the migration to California or central Mexico in the fall and can live six to eight months. The success of each generation is dependent upon the transformations of previous generation happening in correct time.

The monarch makes a journey of thousands of miles for the first time with their own internal GPS guiding their path. They don’t question what they are doing despite the long journey. It is innate.

In late winter, they begin their return, and the cycle begins again.

From a spiritual perspective, what I learned gave me chills. (Source)

  • Generally, butterflies can be a sign of angels being close by
  • Monarchs, specifically, have been known to be indicative of a sign from your guardian angel as a reminder of their presence in your life
  • Monarchs are a message that you are on your correct spiritual path. They are protectors of this path.
  • Butterflies are thought to be the presence of a loved one has recently passed. They are visiting and letting you know they are with you. It is a sign of their well-being.

Butterflies, in general, have long felt a bit magical to me, but I’ve never before known the specific scientific information about them or the symbolism behind them.

The butterflies I encountered connected me to my mom and reaffirmed this path that I’m on.

They also reminded me of some important points that you might also find to be helpful:

  • It’s reassuring to know that there’s guidance there when you need it.
  • We have it within us to take a leap that might scare us and get us out of what feels comfortable.
  • We have the ability to reconnect with our guiding purpose when we feel ungrounded and not clear about the path.
  • It’s good to check in to make sure the path we’re on feels aligned with what we’re here to do.
  • And sometimes, the sign or confirmation we seek may come in ways we’re not expecting.

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