Personal Mourning Rituals - Remembrance Altar

Personal Mourning Rituals - Remembrance Altar
Photo by Elena Mozhvilo / Unsplash

“That which is placed on the altar is altered.” ~Marianne Williamson

Having a remembrance altar is one way you can connect to your loved one daily, and if you don't have one, creating one might be a really nice way to usher in the new year.

So, what exactly is it?

A remembrance altar is a memorial space in your house or living space that is commemorated to your loved one. This is a sacred space that you designate to your loved one’s memory and keep them alive in your life. With intention and time, you will find out that it is easier for you to feel connected to your loved one in this space. You can also use this remembrance altar as the ritual space for many other mourning and grieving rituals like letter writing or crying sessions.

It can also serve as an outer representation of your inner attunement and connection with your person and one of the great things about having it at home is that it is always there and each time you walk by you can receive and feel their energy.

How to create a remembrance altar

  • Space: Decide where in your house you would like to create this space (ideally a place without too much traffic)
  • Altar Setting: You can choose to purchase a special small table to serve as your altar or a nightstand, or get creative like I did and use boxes on the floor which I cover with a cloth that is meaningful to me
  • Sacred Items: Decide the items you would like to include. In general pick items that are meaningful to you and make you feel more connected to your loved one

For example, can choose to use a candle, have a picture of your loved one, and other objects that mean something to you (a rosary, mala beads, incense, crystals, crucifix – whatever is sacred for you).

You can also include personal items that belonged to them and mementos like jewelry, notes, a scarf, a handkerchief, or a watch.

It is also helpful to include a journal that is dedicated to writing to your loved one and reflecting on any mourning rituals you perform.

  • Elements of nature: I also like to include elements of nature to harmonize with the earth's energy and receive support. See some examples below

Earth: Include fresh flowers and a plant (Peace Lilly is a good option)

Air: Include some incense or sage

Water: regular water or holy water if it is in your belief system

Fire: Candles

Mineral: Crystals like rose quartz and obsidian

  • Purchase: Once you know everything you need for your ritual, purchase and curate the items in preparation to enact the ritual
  • Clean and set up the space including the items you have decided to use

For my space, I had a candle in her favorite color, a picture, my mom’s rosary and ring, some incense, statues of Jesus & Mary, crystals, and Lord Ganesh

Ritual Instructions

Total Time: 15 – 30 minutes

Ritual Intention: I intend to create a space to connect and remember my <insert person here>

Set aside 15-30 minutes to perform your ritual at a time when you know you will not be disturbed and gather all your ritual items in the designated space where you will create your remembrance altar

  • Sacred Space: Make the space you have chosen sacred for the ritual by lighting some candles, burning some sage, and playing some music
  • Intention: Set your intention for the ritual and write it down on a piece of paper that you can keep on your remembrance altar. An example of an intention is “I connect with x in this space. I feel their presence”
  • Invocation: Invoke energies to support you. At this time, you can also call upon those who came before you in your family field (ancestors)
  • Ritual Flow: When ready, start arranging your items in the remembrance space until you feel complete
  • Express and Release: Take a few minutes to sit in the space and call forth your loved one and repeat your intention to connect with them. Sit here with the memories and reflect on the different items on your altar
  • Close Ritual: When you feel complete, you can close the ritual by putting out the candle, and stopping the music. Give gratitude to your loved one for their life and to any transpersonal energies that showed up to support you
  • Reflect and Root: Take a few minutes to reflect on the experience

May your altar help you stay connected with your person. For the new year, why don't you begin a weekly or even daily ritual to remember your loved one at your altar.