Neelix is assigned to collect a sample of proto-matter from a nearby nebula. However, he is struck by an energy discharge from the nebula and killed. As Janeway prepares to conduct a Talaxian burial ceremony, Seven of Nine announces that her Borg nanoprobes can be used to revive Neelix. Although skeptical, Janeway allows her to try the procedure, and Neelix is brought back to life.
Neelix is very distraught over his experience. As he explains to Chakotay, his people believe in an afterlife that centers on "The Great Forest." When a Talaxian dies, his ancestors supposedly meet him by the "guiding tree." Neelix has always taken comfort in believing that all of his family would one day be together again, but now he realizes he did not experience anything like that in death.
As the crew gathers for the annual celebration of Prixin, the Talaxian observance of familial allegiance, Neelix visits Ensign Wildman's daughter, Naomi. He goes through their nightly ritual of putting her to bed, but he is troubled by her request to hear his usual story of the Great Forest. Later, Neelix unleashes his frustration on Seven, arguing that his life is no longer worth living now that his deepest beliefs have been shattered. Suddenly, Neelix cries out in pain; his cells are reverting to a necrotic state. Neelix's tissue is rejecting the Borg nanoprobes, but Seven makes the necessary modification to compensate. Still troubled, Neelix asks Chakotay to help him take a vision quest so he can look inside himself and come to some sort of resolution. As the quest begins, Neelix encounters his beloved sister and members of the crew, who all tell him that the afterlife is a lie, and that he has no reason to live. Neelix comes out of the vision determined to end his life.
After recording his goodbyes to the crew, Neelix tries to beam into the nebula. Chakotay rushes to stop him, but Neelix protests that the vision quest convinced him he'll be better off dead. Chakotay explains that the imagery is not easily interpreted and that it was probably just an expression of his anxiety over his beliefs. Neelix is unconvinced until Ensign Wildman summons him to help put Naomi to bed. He realizes that the crew — who have become his family — needs him, and that is his reason to live.