That day my mother-in-law died, three things happened in rapid succession before I was truly awake.
The phone rang, bringing the news of her death. I held my partner for a good long minute. And then, without pausing, I began to tend to her spirit.
I should be clear that her death was not a surprise. She had been in hospice care for a month at that point and we had received news days prior that the end was near. We had both been holding her in our thoughts and in our hearts.
While I had made no plans, love and intuition guided me. First, I knelt before our main altar. Taking up the blade that lies there, I carved her name on the top of our pillar Ancestor candle. I moved next to my Hermes altar. I placed a second candle there and lit it, singing softly to Hermes Psychopomp. I ended with a whispered prayer for him to guide her safely on her way. Turning, I lit the candle on our ancestor altar. Again, I sang, this time to our beloved dead, asking them to make her welcome on their side of the veil. I finished by returning to our main altar, where I lit the candle with her name on it. I sang “Let the Way Be Open” (Sing with my voice, play with my hands, let the way be open) three times through, envisioning a door of light for her to pass easily through. By these acts of reverence, I hoped to pay homage to her spirit and honor and comfort her descendants.
How do you honor your beloved dead?