Prayer for comfort in time of grief

O come, Thou Key of David, come,

And open wide our heavenly home;Make safe the way that leads on high,And close the path to misery.Rejoice! Rejoice! EmmanuelShall come to thee, O Israel.

Hattip to A Catholic Mom in Hawaii.  Since the death of my son Larry I have found this prayer by Father Robert Fox to be of comfort:

God of life and death, You have taken a beloved one from me.  My heart is very heavy.  I recall that Your Son, Jesus Christ, became man in all things except sin and that He groaned in sorrow at the death of His friend, Lazarus.  I unite my grief with Yours dear Jesus, as You stood at the tomb of Lazarus.

O Virgin Mother, you know what it was like losing your husband Joseph, and then your child.  dying suspended between earth and heaven, with a sword piercing your sweet soul.  To you do I come in sorrow, begging strength from your intercession, from you who fully understand what it is like to lose one so dear and close.

Share with me, dear Mother of God, the courage, the strong faith that you had in the future resurrection.  Even after Jesus came back to life and ascended into heaven, you knew you were to be left alone for many years before your own assumption into heaven. You comforted the Apostles as their Queen and Mother during those years. Grant comfort to me now as I sorrow in pain at the loss by the separation that has come as a result of the sin of our first parents and my own sins. Wipe away my tears with the merciful love of your Immaculate Heart as you unite me with my loved one through the grace of the Sacred Heart of your Son Jesus Christ.  Amen.

I had been fortunate in my life and avoided great tragedy, until the death of my son a month ago on May 19. My mother and father died, both too young, and their deaths saddened me greatly.  However, it is in the nature of things for parents to die before their children, and although I still miss them greatly, their passing did not overwhelm my life with grief.  My son Larry’s death is a completely different matter.  I have experienced the depths of grief at his young, and completely unexpected, death, and I miss him constantly and think about him all the time.  In my sorrow the only thing that truly makes sense to me is the thought, as Shakespeare put it in Henry V, “We are in God’s hand brother, not in theirs.”  For His purposes God took my precious boy from this world and I must trust in His goodness and mercy for my son, his mother, his brother and sister, and for me.  At Larry’s funeral mass I quoted Job:  “The Lord Giveth and the Lord Taketh Away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.”  Many people find that a hard message to accept but I embrace it fully.  Without God my dead son would be nothing, I would be nothing and all that I love would be nothing.  With God, this brief life is a mere doorway into splendor unimaginable and a love that surpasses understanding.  In the grief I experience now I truly understand, with my heart, as I always have with my mind, my utter and absolute dependence upon the grace, mercy and love of God.  Throughout my life God has given me a fairly easy path.  Now a harder path beckons, and my family and I must walk it with the same faith in God that we walked the easier path.  However hard the path I know the joy that await for those who walk it in faith, the same indescribable joy my Larry is now experiencing:

The more one thinks about it, the worse it becomes. He got through so easily! No gradual misgivings, no doctor’s sentence, no nursing home, no operating theatre, no false hopes of life: sheer, instantaneous liberation. One moment it seemed to be all our world; the scream of bombs, the fall of houses, the stink and taste of high explosive on the lips and in the lungs, the feet burning with weariness, the heart cold with horrors, the brain reeling, the legs aching; next moment all this was gone, gone like a bad dream, never again to be of any account. Defeated, outmaneuvered fool! Did you mark how naturally-as if he’d been born for it-the Earth-born vermin entered the new life? How all his doubts became, in the twinkling of an eye, ridiculous? I know what the creature was saying to itself! “Yes. Of course. It always was like this. All horrors have followed the same course, getting worse and worse and forcing you into a kind of bottleneck till, at the very moment when you thought you must be crushed, behold! you were out of the narrows and all was suddenly well. The extraction hurt more and more and then the tooth was out. The dream became a nightmare and then you woke. You die and die and then you are beyond death. How could I ever have doubted it?”

The Screwtape Letters

Pleas for mercy and aid Laments and mourningRest for the dead and the sufferingComfort and solaceFear***To Allah we belong and to him we shall return. Oh Allah, help me in my calamity and replace it with good.

–Muslim prayer

***My eyes fail with watching for thy promise;

I ask, “When wilt thou comfort me?”
–Psalm 119

***These two things have befallen you —

who will condole with you? —
devastation and destruction, famine and sword;
who will comfort you?
–Isaiah 51

***Comfort, give comfort to my people.

–Isaiah 40

Laments of mourning and afflictionI grieved for my friend or my brother;

I went about as one who laments his mother,
bowed down and in mourning.
–Psalm 35

***I weep and lament when I behold our beauty created in the likeness of God lying in the tomb disfigured, bereft of glory and form. 0 the marvel of it! What is this mystery concerning us? Why have we been delivered to corruption? Why have we been wedded unto death?

–Orthodox Funeral Hymn

***It is as if the sun and the moon have left the sky.

–The Buddha

***Oh, only for so short a while you

have loaned us to each other,
because we take form in your act of drawing us,
and we take life in your painting us,
and we breathe in your singing us.
But only for so short a while
have you loaned us to each other.
Because even a drawing cut in obsidian fades,
and the green feathers, the crown feathers,
of the Quetzal bird lose their color,
and even the sounds of the waterfall
die out in the dry season.
So, we too, because only for a short while
have you loaned us to each other.
–Aztec Indian Prayer

***By the waters of Babylon

we sat down and wept.
–Psalm 137

***But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb.

–John 20

***This is the Hour of Lead —

Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons–recollect the Snow —
First — Chill — Then Stupor — then the letting go.
–Emily Dickinson

Pleas for mercy and aid | Laments of mourning and affliction |Rest for the dead and the suffering | Comfort and strength | Fear

Repose for the dead, rest for the sufferingAnd 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 .

–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.

–from the Jewish Kaddish for Mourners

***If we have died with Christ, we believe we shall also live with him.

–Romans 6

***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 shelteringPresence, among the holy and the pure who shine with the splendorof the firmament, to the soul of our dear one who has goneto 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 strengthBlessed are those who mourn; they shall be comforted.

–Matthew 5

***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.
–Psalm 23

***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

–Hindu mantra

***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 believethat people are really good at heart.

–Anne Frank

***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.
–Buddhist prayer

***I lift up my eyes to the hills–from where will my help come?

My help comes from the Lord.
–Psalm 121

***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,
Die not…
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.
–John Donne

***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.
–Isaiah 60

***As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you.

–Isaiah 66

***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
–Negro spiritual/Martin Luther King Jr.

***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.

–Job 1

Wisdom about fearBlessed 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.
–Psalm 31

***”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.”

–Matthew 10:24-33

***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 hisLord, and no fear shall be upon them, neither shall they sorrow.

–Qur’an 2:112

***In paradise there is 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.
–Katha Upanishad

Perfect love casts out fear.

–John 4:18


By Adelle M. Banks
Religion News Service

(RNS) Pastor Greg Laurie knows a thing or two about prayer in tough times.

The honorary chairman of this year’s National Day of Prayer (May 2) says prayer was the only thing that got him through his son’s death five years ago. When fellow megachurch pastor Rick Warren lost his son Matthew to suicide, Laurie was the man he most wanted to hear from.

Laurie, 60, who leads the evangelical Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, Calif., talked about prayer, grief and what not to say when a friend’s loved one dies. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Q: The prayer you wrote for the National Day of Prayer mentions “random acts of horrific violence.” How did you pray after the Boston Marathon bombings?

A: I prayed that comfort would be extended to those who had lost loved ones. I prayed for those who were injured. And I prayed for no more of these attacks to happen.

Q: Then there was an explosion at the Texas fertilizer plant. How did you pray about that?

A: Anytime there’s human suffering and anytime people have lost loved ones, I pray that God will extend comfort to them because, having had our own son die five years ago, I’ve been up close and personal with grief and I know the very real pain that it brings into a person’s life.

Q: It’s been a difficult month for the nation with these back-to-back tragedies. Do you think people should be more drawn to prayer in times like this, or is it wrong to mostly call on God when we’re in need?

A: I don’t think it’s ever wrong to call on God. Certainly it’s far better if we’re calling on him all the time. Quite frankly, sometimes crisis is what shows us a need that we had all along, which was the need to pray.

Q: Can you discuss your role in talking to Rick Warren after he lost his son to suicide?

A: I called him the day after it happened and he said, “You’re the one person I’ve been waiting to hear from.” We talked for a while about it. We prayed. I shared some things that I learned over the years after losing our own son and then I spoke just last Sunday at Saddleback Church. I brought a message of hope and encouragement to his congregation.

Q: What was your major piece of advice for them?

A: I said, I just want you to know that Rick is going to come through this. He’s going to come through this stronger but I also want you to know this is the hardest thing that can happen to a parent — to lose a child.

Q: What should people not say when a friend is grieving the loss of a child?

A: Don’t say, “I know what you’re going through” because you probably don’t.

I’ve had people come up to me and say, “I know what you’re going through. My grandmother just died.” And I pointed out that everyone’s grandmother and grandfather will die, then their parents, then them. But no one expects their child to die before them.

Or saying things like “Well, just rejoice and smile they’re in heaven.” Understand that though that is technically true, it is also true that that person is in deep pain and that can come off almost glib and uncaring.

Q: Can you talk briefly about your son’s death?

A: He was 33. He was actually working for our church as our lead designer and was on his way to work and had an automobile accident and died.

Q: Has that experience changed the way you approach prayer?

A: It has shown me how much I need to pray. When it was all said and done, being a preacher didn’t give me a leg up on this. I still was a grieving father missing a son. And in the initial moments after it happens, and the hours and the days after that, one wonders if you can even survive such a thing. I’ve found that prayer is what got me through the day. Sometimes it wasn’t so much day by day, it was even hour by hour.

Q: So what’s the message you’re going to bring to Capitol Hill on the National Day of Prayer?

A: I am going to talk about how God promises to heal a nation if we will pray. In 2 Chronicles 7:14 he says, “If my people which are called by name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I’ll forgive their sin and heal their land.”

What I find interesting about that verse is God is not pointing his finger at the White House, so to speak, but at his house. I think that it’s very easy for people in the church to point their fingers at Washington or Hollywood. In effect, God points his finger at his own people.

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