Witchy Ways to Honor the Dead

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I believe that when one dies, they pass beyond the veil. They may come back in a different lifetime. They may stay beyond. They may be stuck, a spirit on earth. They may stay on earth because they’re nosy as hell, before moving on. This belief system doesn’t make it any easier on me when I lose a loved one. My husband’s grandmother died January 27, with the viewing on January 29.


We traveled from the Sunshine State to Wintry Pennsylvania. Living on a homestead, I was up at 4 AM on Sunday, only going to bed at 11 PM on Monday. We drove straight to Pennsylvania Sunday night and arrived Monday morning. We were met with the warmth of family.

When a loved one is lost, it is difficult to both say goodbye and move forward. Moving forward, in my opinion, is a matter of mindset. Being aware that the loved one does not want you to be stuck in despair. Moving forward takes active willpower. No ritual in the world is going to help you move forward if you don’t truly want to move forward. There are several ways of saying goodbye and honoring a loved one though.

two persons holding drinking glasses filled with beer
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Party Like It’s 1999.

We did this as a family. Granny wanted a party and she got one after the viewing. We enjoyed bar food (I. LOVE. CHICKEN. WINGS) and drinks. The waitstaff met our disgraceful dirty jokes with grace. There was laughter and love. And repeating of the word “fuck.” Granny would have been proud.

red lighted candle
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Light a Candle

It sounds funny, but this is my favorite solo way of saying goodbye. When someone passes, especially when it’s their time (Granny told everyone it was going to happen mere hours before it did), I fell like simplicity is best. I’m a lot more extravagant during Samhain or when I’m calling upon help from my ancestors. Personally, I lit a white candle because Granny would not have wanted black. I set one of her rings by the candle. I mediated. I told her I loved her and let the flame die on its own.


If you’re needing more than a candle to say goodbye, you could build a mini shrine. the shrine can include the candle of choice, as well as photographs, small possessions that belonged to the deceased, letters, incense, and food offerings (or drink). You can keep a shrine up for as long as you need. Many can keep up portions of a shrine, like pictures, for a few years.

silhouette of graves
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You can visit the deceased’s site of rest. Granny was cremated, but her urn is buried with her husband. If you’re able to visit, this is the perfect time to speak to a dead loved one.

blur calm close up daylight
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Even if you cannot visit a grave, you can still communicate with the dead, even if you fail they don’t respond. Some people call upon loved ones by scrying into a bowl of water, or a dark mirror. Others simply sit in a comfortable position and think about their loved one, or call upon them, before entering a meditative state.

These methods aside, just a quick thought in your day about your loved one is still acknowledging your love and appreciation of them. When you’re reminded of them throughout your day-to-day activities, just say hi and tell them you love them.

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