Prayers for Times of Grief
A selection of prayers and scripture readings from many faiths.
|Laments of mourning and affliction
|Rest for the dead and the suffering
|Comfort and strength
Repose for the dead, rest for the suffering
And in Christ are blessed all those who look to him at the point of death; those who die suddenly or violently; all who mourn the death of a loved one; and those for whom the process of dying is fearful. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.
--Jesuit Prayer to the Mother of God
When wandering alone, parted from loving friends; When the shapes of one's empty thought-forms dawn upon one here, may the Buddhas, exercising the power of their divine compassion, let there be neither awe nor terror in the bardo [transition state once life has ended].
--The Tibetan Book of the Dead
O Allah, ease upon him his matters, and make light for him whatever comes hereafter, and honor him with Your meeting and make that which he has gone to better than that which he came out from.
--Muslim funeral prayer
Yit-gadal v'yit-kadash sh'may raba b'alma dee-v'ra che-ru-tay, ve'yam-lich mal-chutay b'chai-yay-chon uv'yo-may-chon uv-cha-yay d'chol beit Yisrael, ba-agala u'vitze-man ka-riv, ve'imru amen. Y'hay sh'may raba me'varach le-alam uleh-almay alma-ya.
Yit-barach v'yish-tabach, v'yit-pa-ar v'yit-romam v'yit-nasay, v'yit-hadar v'yit-aleh v'yit-halal sh'may d'koo-d'shah, b'rich hoo. layla (ool-ayla)* meen kol beer-chata v'she-rata, toosh-b'chata v'nay-ch'mata, da-a meran b'alma, ve'imru amen.
Y'hay sh'lama raba meen sh'maya v'cha-yim aleynu v'al kol Yisrael, ve'imru amen.
O'seh shalom beem-romav, hoo ya'ah-seh shalom aleynu v'al kol Yisrael, ve'imru amen.
[Magnified and sanctified be Your name, O God, throughout the world, which You have created according to Your will. May Your sovereignty be accepted in our own days, in our lives, and in the life of all the House of Israel, speedily and soon, and let us say, Amen.
May Your great name be blessed for ever and ever.
Exalted and honored, adored and acclaimed be Your name, O Holy One, blessed are You, whose glory transcends all praises, songs, and blessings voiced in the world, and let us say, Amen.
Grant abundant peace and life to us and to all Israel, and let us say, Amen.
May You who establish peace in the heavens, grant peace to us, to Israel, and to all the earth, and let us say, Amen.
May God comfort you among the other mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.]
--from the Jewish Kaddish for Mourners
If we have died with Christ, we believe we shall also live with him.
From the earth did We
Create you, and into it
Shall We return you
And from it shall We
Bring you out once again.
--Surah Ta-Ha (Muslim)
Saints of God, come to their aid;
Come to meet them, angels of the Lord.
Eternal rest give unto them, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.
--Roman Catholic prayers for the dead
Mother of waters,
Father of rain,
You have taken back your own.
As a stream flows into a river,
as a river flows into the sea, may (his) spirit flow
to the waters of healing,
to the waters of rebirth.
--Pagan Book of Living and Dying
O God of spirits and of all flesh, who has trampled down Death and made powerless the Devil, and given life to the world; do Thou, the same Lord, give rest to the souls of Thy departed servants in a place of brightness, a place of verdure, a place of repose, whence all sickness, sorrow, and sighing have fled away.
--Eastern Orthodox Trisagion for the Dead
Exalted, compassionate God, grant perfect peace in Your sheltering Presence, among the holy and the pure who shine with the splendor of the firmament, to the soul of our dear one who has gone to his eternal home. May his soul be bound up in the bond of life. The Lord is his portion. May he rest in peace. And let us say: Amen.
--El Malei Rachamim, Jewish Prayer for the Departed
Comfort, solace, and strength
Blessed are those who mourn; they shall be comforted.
The Lord is my shepherd: I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Hold on to what is good
even if it is a handful of earth.
Hold on to what you believe
even if it is a tree which stands by itself
Hold onto what you must do
even if it is a long way from here.
Hold on to life
even when it is easier letting go.
Hold on to my hand
even when I have gone away from you.
--Native American Prayer
Blest be the Lord, the God of mercy, the God who saves.
I shall not fear the dark of night
Nor the arrow that flies by day.
I need not shrink before the terrors of the night,
Nor stand alone before the light of day.
No harm shall come to me, no arrow strike me down,
No evil settle in my soul.
--Folk song based on Psalm 91
Om Sarve Bhavanthu Sukhina
Sarve Santhu Nira Maya
Sarve Bhadrani Pashyanthu
Ma Kashchith Dukkha Bhaag Bhaveth
[Oh Lord, may all of mankind be safe,
Let no one experience pain or suffering.]
Mother of God, Light in all darkness, shelter Him, our flame of hope, in your tender hands. And in our times of dread and nightmares, Let him be our dream of comfort. And in our times of physical pain and suffering, let Him be our healer. And in our times of separation from God and one another, let him be our communion.
--Roman Catholic Prayer
In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.
The Lord is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
In the time of trouble, he shall hide me;
Whom shall I fear?
--Spiritual based on Psalm 27
Christ is risen from the dead,
by death trampling upon Death,
and has bestowed life
to those in the tombs.
--Eastern Orthodox Paschal Hymn
May all be free from sorrow,
and the causes of sorrow,
May all never be separated from the sacred happiness which is sorrowless.
I lift up my eyes to the hills--from where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord.
Blessed be the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort others.
--2 Corinthians 1
Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow,
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.
Violence shall no more be heard in your land,
devastation or destruction within your borders;
you shall call your walls Salvation,
and your gates Praise.
As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you.
Be not afraid; I go before you always.
--St. Louis Jesuits
We shall overcome
We are not afraid
We are not alone
We shall overcome
We shall overcome some day
The body they may kill: God's truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.
--"A Mighty Fortress Is Our God"
The Lord has given, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.
Wisdom about fear
Blessed be the Lord,
for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me
when I was beset as a city under siege.
I had said in my alarm,
"I am driven far from your sight."
But you heard my supplications
when I cried out to you for help.
Love the Lord, all you his saints.
The Lord preserves the faithful,
but abundantly repays the one who acts haughtily.
Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
all you who wait for the Lord.
"Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father's knowledge."
The whole world is a very narrow bridge. And the most important thing is to not be afraid.
--Rabbi Nachman of Breslov
Whosoever submits his will to God, while doing good, his wage is with his Lord, and no fear shall be upon them, neither shall they sorrow.
In paradise there is [no such thing as] fear;
Thou art not there, nor shrinks one from old age.
Hunger and thirst, these two transcending,
Sorrow, surpassing, a man makes merry in paradise.
Perfect love casts out fear.