As someone who is on his 15th play of honor (not because I beat it 14 times, but because I died haha), and someone who is a fan of the Souls series... death and failure is something I am accustomed to.
To be fair, there are a LOT of cheap spots in the game and it doesn't really feel "ready" for prime time in honor mode. The tricks I'm using to survive aren't completely lame but they aren't normal at all in the cRPG circles at all (at least regarding navigating past traps). I posted some general honor tips in the Tactician - Am I Free thread so feel free to check that out if you want to.
However, the simplest way to "beat" honor mode on the "first" try is to run tactician and honor in parallel. You play tactician mode to get a general feel for the major pitfalls, get to a checkpoint. Run your honor game and get to that checkpoint. Will it take twice as long? Yes. Will it be boring? Maybe. Is it better than reloading 3 times? Most definitely! Sadly, I'm a hypocrite here since I am NOT doing that, but I have played the game before so I won't get as blindsided as you have.
Anyway, good luck my friend! If you want to go just single save honor mode, feel free to post on the forums and ask for tips and such!