Death and dying are parts of life. While some people fear them, others draw inspiration from death.
As nurses, it’s inevitable for us to see some of our patients die and their families deeply grieve for them. Although we can’t bring back their loved ones, there are still ways for us to provide comfort, strength and guidance to the families our patients left behind.
Here are 10 powerful prayers for the departed.
For the recently deceased
In your hands, O Lord,
we humbly entrust our brothers and sisters.
In this life you embraced them with your tender love;
deliver them now from every evil
and bid them eternal rest.
The old order has passed away:
welcome them into paradise,
where there will be no sorrow, no weeping or pain,
but fullness of peace and joy
with your Son and the Holy Spirit
forever and ever.
Prayer for the souls in purgatory
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
Prayer for deceased relatives and friends
Almighty Father, source of forgiveness and salvation, grant that our relatives and friends who have passed from this life may, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of all the saints, come to share your Eternal happiness through Christ our Lord. Amen
Prayers for the deceased for forgiveness and peace and for mourners
Lord Jesus, our Redeemer, You willingly gave Yourself up to death so that all people might be saved and pass from death into a new life. Listen to our prayers; look with love on Your people who mourn and pray for their dead brother/sister.
Lord Jesus, You alone are holy and compassionate; forgive our brother/sister his/her sins.
By dying You opened the gates of life for those who believe in You; do not let Your brother/sister be parted from You, but by Your glorious power give him/her light, joy, and peace in heaven where You live for ever and ever. Amen.
My brother (sister) in faith, I entrust you to God Who created you.
May you return to the One Who formed you from the dust of this earth.
May Mary, the angels, and all the saints come to meet you as you go forth from this life.
May Christ Who was crucified for you bring you freedom and peace.
May Christ, the Son of God, Who died for you take you into His kingdom.
May Christ, the Good Shepherd, give you a place within His flock.
May He forgive your sins and keep you among His people.
May you see your Redeemer face to face and enjoy the sight of God forever. Amen.
Prayer for a deceased friend
I commend you, my dear to almighty God, and entrust you to your Creator.
May you rest in the arms of the Lord who formed you from the dust of the earth.
May holy Mary, the angels, and all the saints welcome you now that you have gone forth from this life.
May Christ who was crucified for you, bring you freedom and peace.
May Christ who died for you admit you into his garden of paradise.
May Christ, the true Shepherd, embrace you as one of his flock.
May he forgive all your sins and set you among those he has chosen.
May you see your Redeemer face to face and enjoy the vision of God, forever.
Prayer for unexpected death
Heavenly Father we know and believe that our times are in Your hands, but Lord it’s so often such a shock to us when a dear loved one meets with a sudden or unexpected death – through an accident or perhaps due to some unforeseen tragedy, which takes the life of someone they loved – long before it would be expected.
Lord, we bring before You today those who are having to go through such a tragic loss and pray that You would be very close to each one that is in mourning today over such a loss – and are perhaps confused or even angry that such a devastating occurrence has overtaken them – without any apparent warning.
You are the God of all comfort Who comforts us in time of need and we pray that for those that are facing such a difficult trial today. Uphold them we pray, and ask that You draw very close to them … raise up we pray, the right people to minister to them and to be a genuine comfort and support at this time of tragedy and grief.
Lord, we don’t understand why our loved ones should suddenly be removed from us through a sudden, unexpected death – but Lord we trust You to soothe away the hurt in time – for shall not the God of all the earth do right…. In Jesus name, we pray,
Prayer for deceased parents
O God, Who has commanded us
to honor our father and mother,
have compassion in Thy mercy,
on the souls of my father and mother;
forgive them their sins,
and grant that I may see them
in the joy of eternal brightness.
Through Christ our Lord.
Prayer after violent death
Father, we bring before You those that have had the devastating experience of having someone close to them that they know and love, suffer a sudden, violent and needless death. Lord how we grieve for those that are having to experience this right now, and we pray that in Your grace You would look down with pity and mercy and meet them right at their point of need.
Lord, You are the one Who was sent to heal the broken-hearted and comfort those that mourn and are heavy-laden. You are the One Who promised that Your grace is sufficient for every eventuality – even for those having to face the sudden and violent death of someone close to them. Draw near to them we pray and lift them up into You arms of love and carry them during this time of suffering and grief for You have promised that underneath are Your everlasting arms.
Lord, as we lift up in prayer those that are having to come to terms with the sudden and violent death of a loved one – we pray that You would use this tragedy to be the thing that starts to draw each suffering soul into the tender arms of their Saviour – the Lord Jesus Christ, in Whose name we pray,
Prayer for a deceased brother, relative or friend
You are, O God,
quick to pardon and desire man’s salvation.
In Your goodness we ask You to grant our deceased brothers,
relatives, and friends everlasting happiness.
With the help of Blessed Mary ever Virgin
and all Your saints,
we ask this through Christ, our Lord.
Prayer to say on the day of a person’s death
O God, Whose property is always to have mercy and to spare, we humbly beseech Thee for the soul of Thy servant N…, which Thou hast this day commanded to depart out of this world, that Thou wouldst not deliver it into the hands of the enemy, nor forget it unto the end, but wouldst command it to be received by the Holy Angels, and conducted to Paradise, its true country; that as in Thee it hath hoped and believed, it may not suffer the pains of hell, but may take possession of eternal joys.
Through Christ our Lord.
See Also: 10 Inspiring Songs To Help With Grief
Share these beautiful prayers to friends or family who need them.
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A Prayer for Expecting the Unexpected
By James MacDonald
The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin” (Exodus 34:6-7, ESV).
You’ll recall the golden calf incident that occurred while Moses was on the mountain with God receiving the Ten Commandments. It wasn’t a pretty scene. Moses came down, saw what his brother Aaron had allowed to happen, smashed the tablets of the law, then ground the golden calf into powder, mixed it with water, and forced the people to drink it.
So when Moses headed back up the mountain in Exodus 34 with a new set of stone plates for God to write on, he went also with an appeal for mercy—which he delivered in verse 9. But before Moses could even say the words, our God—who is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love . . . forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin”—had already declared (in verses 6 and 7!) forgiveness of the people’s sin
Witness the heart of your God for forgiveness: “He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19). “As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us” (Psalms 103:12). “I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins”(Isaiah 43:25).
God’s nature and disposition are not to judge but to forgive. If they weren’t, there would be no Bethlehem, no baby Jesus, no perfect life, no atoning death, no victorious resurrection, and no salvation for those who believe. Because of His loving intention toward you, His forgiveness will never run out, never run dry. He will never give up on you or renege on His promises. He will never claim to forgive you but then hold a secret grudge. He won’t recall your sin to mind and then weaponize it against you the next time you come begging for mercy.
This is what separates Christianity from every other form of religious belief in the world. In Christ, you can experience complete acceptance, full resolution, total restoration. God doesn’t want you living in shame and regret, but rather receiving His boundless grace.
Don’t let it surprise you. Come expecting the unexpected.
Lord, how I thank You that when You forgive, You wash away all knowing in the present related to anything regrettable about my past. How I thank You that I can never wear out my welcome with You, and that You will never change in any way. If Your disposition was to judge, You would not have made any attempt to reconcile me to Yourself. And yet before the foundation of the world, Your steadfast love was already reaching out. Why would You stop now? So I come today, confessing, believing, and knowing that I am forgiven, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Editor’s Note: Content taken from the Our Journey Online devotional, Expecting the Unexpected,” written by James MacDonald. You can read that piece in full here. All rights reserved.
Therefore, we see panikhidas and prayer at home for the dead are beneficial for them, as are good deeds done in their memory, such as alms or contributions to the church. But especially beneficial for them is commemoration at the Divine Liturgy. There have been many appearances of the dead and other occurrences which confirm how beneficial is the commemoration of the dead. Many who died in repentance, but who were unable to manifest this while they were alive, have been freed from tortures and have obtained repose.
How important commemoration at the Liturgy is may be seen in the following occurrence: Before the uncovering of the relics of St. Theodosius of Chernigov (1896), the priest-monk (the renowned Starets Alexis of Goloseyevsky Hermitage, of the Kiev-Caves Lavra, who died in 1916) who was conducting the re-vesting of the relics, becoming weary while sitting by the relics, dozed off and saw before him the Saint, who told him: “I thank you for laboring me. I beg you also, when you will serve the Liturgy, to commemorate my parents”—and be gave their names (Priest Nikita and Maria).** “How can you, O Saint, ask my prayers, when you yourself stand at the heavenly Throne and grant to people God’s mercy?” the priest-monk asked. “Yes, that is true,” replied St. Theodosius, “but the offering at the Liturgy is more powerful than my prayer.”
Therefore, we see panikhidas and prayer at home for the dead are beneficial for them, as are good deeds done in their memory, such as alms or contributions to the church. But especially beneficial for them is commemoration at the Divine Liturgy. There have been many appearances of the dead and other occurrences which confirm how beneficial is the commemoration of the dead. Many who died in repentance, but who were unable to manifest this while they were alive, have been freed from tortures and have obtained repose. In the Church, prayers are ever offered for the repose of the dead, and on the day of the Descent of the Holy Spirit, in the kneeling prayers at vespers, there is even a special petition “for those in hell.”
St. Gregory the Great, in answering in his Dialogues the question, “Is there anything at all that can possibly benefit souls after death?” teaches: “The Holy Sacrifice of Christ, our saving Victim, brings great benefits to souls even after death, provided their sins (are such as) can be pardoned in the life to come. For this reason the souls of the dead sometimes beg to have Liturgies offered for them … The safer course, naturally, is to do for ourselves during life what we hope others will do for us after death. It is better to make one’s exit a free man than to seek liberty after one is in chains. We should, therefore, despise this world with all our hearts as though its glory were already spent, and offer our sacrifice of tears to God each day as we immolate His sacred Flesh and Blood. This Sacrifice alone has the power of saving the soul from eternal death, for it presents to us mystically the death of the Only-begotten Son” (Dialogues IV: 57, 60, pp. 266, 272-3).
St. Gregory gives several examples of the dead appearing to the living and asking for or thanking them for the celebration of the Liturgy for their repose; once, also, a captive whom his wife believed dead and for whom she had the Liturgy celebrated on certain days, returned from captivity and told her how he had been released from his chains on some days—the very days when the Liturgy had been offered for him. (Dialogues IV: 57, 59, pp. 267, 270).
Protestant theologians find the Church’s prayer for the dead to be somehow incompatible with the necessity of finding salvation first of all in this life: “If you can be saved by the Church after death, then why bother to struggle or find faith in this Life? Let us eat, drink, and be merry…” Of course, no one holding such a philosophy has ever attained salvation by the Church’s prayers, and it is evident that such an argument is quite artificial and even hypocritical. The Church’s prayer cannot save anyone who does not wish salvation, or who never offered any struggle for it himself during his lifetime. In a sense, one might say that the prayer of the Church or of individual Christians for a dead person is but another result of that person’s life: he would not be prayed for unless he had done something during his lifetime to inspire such prayer after his death.
St. Mark of Ephesus also discusses this question of the Church’s prayer for the dead and the improvement it brings in their state, citing the example of the prayer of St. Gregory the Dialogist for the Roman Emperor Trajan—a prayer inspired by a good deed of this pagan Emperor.
**These names had been unknown before this vision. Several years after the canonization, St. Theodosius’ own Book of Commemoration was found in the monastery where he had once been Abbot, which confirmed these names and corroborated the vision. See the Life of Elder Alexis in Pravoslavny Blagovestnik, San Francisco, 1967, No. I (in Russian).
Excerpt from The Soul after Death by Fr. Seraphim Rose
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Has someone you know recently lost a friend or a loved one? Prayers can help them through their time of grief. The Bible says “Cast all your anxiety on Him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). This verse is more than a notion. There is power in prayer to help us through death and dying.
When someone we care about loses someone in their life, offering condolences, whether they be in writing or in person is never easy because you’re never quite sure what to say. People are often concerned about saying the wrong thing or coming off like they’re not genuine. Because of this, it’s easy to fall into the trap of saying something so generic that it doesn’t come off genuine.
The goal of expressing sympathy is to offer your compassion and concern for the bereaved. The most important thing you can communicate to a person who is grieving the loss of a friend or a loved one is that you’re there for them and will be there to support them in whatever way they need you to. One of the best ways to support someone who has recently loss someone is by praying for them. Here are six prayers for death and dying that you can offer a person has passed away, and also to someone who has suffered the loss of a loved one:
When We are Weak, You Make Us Strong
When our lives are running smoothly and devoid of trials, we have a tendency to rely upon our own human strength – strength that cannot compare in any way to Christ’s almighty and divine strength. However, when our life is beset with difficulties and storms, our strength fades away and we become weak. Yet, in these times of personal weakness, we can turn to Jesus and rely upon His divine strength and through that strength, face and endure these storms: Dear Lord, at this moment, nothing seems to be able to help the loss I feel. My heart is broken and my spirit mourns. All I know is that Your grace is sufficient. This day, this hour, moment by moment, I choose to lean on You, for when I am at my weakest Your strength is strongest. I pour out my grief to You and praise You that on one glorious day when all suffering is extinguished and love has conquered we shall walk together. Amen.
You are There for Us
God is there for us, especially during our times of grief and mourning. Sadly, grief is a part of the human experience. Loss is part of life, and grief is a natural response to loss. But we have the hope of Christ, and we know that He is strong enough to carry our burdens: Heavenly Father, there is none like You. Every day we want to praise You and worship Your glorious name. Today, we weep at the death of our loved one, but Blessed Father, we can rest assured knowing You are there for us, knowing we can find comfort and peace within You, in the midst of our tears and our grief. Lord, we shout Your praises, because You have turned our mourning into dancing. Amen.
We Thank You for Their Life
The Bible tells us that God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble (Psalm 46). This includes times of loss. This is a time we can use to reflect on the life they lived and thank God for having the opportunity to know them for this particular season of life: Heavenly Father, may Your name be honored. There is none greater than You. You are our refuge and strength. You are always ready to help in times of trouble. We praise You, Lord. We lift our hearts with praise. It is good to sing praises to You; our God; how delightful and how right! Lord, You are great and mighty in power. Your understanding is infinite. We than You, Father, for the Life of our loved one who has gone on to be with You. Thank you for their time on earth and the impact they had on our lives. We are thankful to You and we bless Your name. Amen.
Rescue Them from Their Grief
We know that the Lord is there for us during times of loss, because He promises to be present. We know that when we are feeling loss and discouraged that God hears us and has the ability to rescue us when we feel so low, we don’t know how to lift ourselves up. God has the ability to rescue us during grief: Heavenly Father, you can count the stars and call them all by name. Your power is absolute. Your understanding is beyond comprehension. You support the humble and bring the wicked down into the dust. You comfort those who mourn. We declare that those grieving the death of a loved one; mourning will turn into dancing. We confess that You are their rock, fortress and Savior in whom they will find protection. You are their shield, and the strength of their salvation. Father, You are their stronghold. As they call on You, You have promised to answer. We believe that You will be with them during this period of bereavement, rescue them from grief, honor them, and give them Your salvation. Amen.
We Send Peace for Those Mourning
Peace, by definition, is freedom from disturbance, quiet and tranquility. The Bible reminds us “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). When someone has recently lost a loved one, we can pray for that same peace which passes all understanding to come to them: Dear Lord, we ask You to send Your peace to those persons who are mourning. Continue to surround them with family, friends and loved ones who will offer words of comfort. Give them sweet and restful sleep. Lord, remove the spirit of heaviness, and give them garments of praise. In due time, bless their lives to overflow with laughter and joy again. As they take refuge in You, please help them to put their trust in You. Holy Spirit, we ask that You settle the hearts and minds of those who are feeling any guilt, resentment, bitterness, or anger. Help them not to look back but to press forward. Amen.