Short, simple words of prayer provide much needed comfort and hope to all Christians, especially mothers who have lost their children. Prayers are known to be beneficial in healing anxiety and depression during times of trouble. These prayers can be said aloud, alone, for a mother or for yourself.
Prayer for Bereaved Parents
The Belief Net website is all about inspiration, spirituality and faith. It contains a specific prayer for bereaved parents that they could recite themselves or with which others could pray for the mothers who have lost their children:
“God, you sacrificed your son so that we and our children would transcend physical death. We know that you grieved when he was crucified and that you grieve over all the atrocities done by men — especially in your name. You know and understand grief as you know and understand all. You know best how to comfort these parents. Lift their hearts up to you and fill them with your peace. Your understanding is beyond our human comprehension, but give them the knowledge and faith to endure even that which they can’t understand. Let them be aware of you always God, and help them to remember that your Love is Life that can never really be taken away.”
A Mother’s Prayer to the Guardian Angels of Her Child
“The Angels” magazine’s website passes along this maternal prayer for the well-being of her children:
“I humbly salute you, O you faithful, heavenly Friends of my children! I give you heartfelt thanks for all the love and goodness you show them. At some future day I shall, with thanks more worthy than I can now give, repay your care for them, and before the whole heavenly court acknowledge their indebtedness to your guidance and protection. Continue to watch over them. Provide for all their needs of body and soul. Pray, likewise, for me, for my husband, and my whole family, that we may all one day rejoice in your blessed company.
Simply look to the Bible for simple verses that can create comfort in this sad situation. The following are two that are often used in time of sorrow:
“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold — though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” 1 Peter 1:6-7
“Those who have been ransomed by the Lord will return. They will enter Jerusalem singing, crowned with everlasting joy. Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness.” Isaiah 51:11
Prayer After the Death of a Child
Creighton, a Jesuit Catholic University, shares a prayer for mothers after the death of a child:
“My life is upside down, loving God. The order of the world is out of place and I can’t do anything to right it again. Oh, Lord, you know the pain in my heart at all times and you know why: my child has died. How can it be that my beloved child is gone? The child I cared for with such concern in every illness, the one I held close to my heart and promised to take care of for a lifetime, is not here for me to care for anymore. It hurts deeply that I wasn’t able to protect this child I love with my whole being from a death that seems so unfair.
“Let me feel calm. Let me breathe deeply. Be with me in this kind of deep and transformative pain. I now carry this darkness with me on my back and in my heart, always. It is my burden and my companion.
“Lord, there is not a single minute of my life when this loss is not etched so keenly into my brain and heart, whether it is in the middle of a busy day or in those choking moments of grief in the solitary dark of night. Let me be grateful for every minute we had together. Let me treasure those memories and find joy in them. Help me to deal with people better. They don’t know what to say. They stumble and look away when they see me. They pretend nothing has happened. I know they “don’t want to remind me” but they don’t understand it is with me always, always.
“Teach me, Lord. Tell me what you want me to do with this. What am I supposed to learn from this kind of pain? What are you calling me to do?
“Open my battered heart and lead me to comfort and peace. Only you can give me the peace I need. Let me feel your presence in my life.”
by Sasha (United States)
I am so sad and my heart hurts that my mommy is no longer with me. It hurts because I don’t understand why she has to leave me so soon. I cry when I hear other children speak of their mother. I yearn to speak to her and hear her voice again. Please help me to understand what is happening in my life right now. Help me to be able to go on and keep living the life You have for me to live. Give me peace, strength, comfort and love. Fill my thoughts of her with wonderful memories we made when she was here. Help me to desire to continue on and know You will be there to take good care of me. Send people in my life to lead and guide me in the right direction. Help me to feel her presence. Help me to make her proud. I thank You in advance for all Your help in this situation Lord.
In Jesus’ Name,
Return to Prayers for Children
Grief is a wretched part of this path we tread here on earth. A dusty old seminary book took a rabbit trail from doctrine, and spoke the most profound, yet succinct, words I’ve ever read about grief. The author said that when God created everything, death wasn’t part of the design; so when someone dies, the reality is so awful and difficult for us to even comprehend, that our minds struggle to wrap around it because they weren’t made to comprehend it. When someone dies, it feels as though everything inside is screaming “This is so wrong!” because, in fact, it is. Death is all wrong. It’s a symptom of the fallen world. It’s a reminder of our utter brokenness. And it’s probably the most difficult thing all of us face, regardless of where we were born, how richly we live, our education, or any other culturally defining factor. It reaches us all.
In church, I’ve heard a great number of misnomers about how we, as Christians, ought to handle grief. I heard one woman say that she tried so hard not to let herself cry at her mother’s funeral because she thought it would show a lack of faith that her mom was in heaven. I heard one woman say to a grieving husband, “If you’d only had enough faith, your wife wouldn’t have died with this cancer.” To a recent widow, “God has more life for you, now you need to get on with it!” And to moms who lost babies (born and unborn/full term infant loss and still birth), things like, “Well, it was the Lord’s mercy to take him. You wouldn’t want to give your life caring for a handicapped child.” And to parents who, after years of infertility miscarried their little one, “It just wasn’t God’s timing. You’ll see.” These are just a drop in the bucket of statements that were said to grief-torn souls. If you’ve lost a loved one, I’m sure you’ve heard a few of your own unhelpful comments too. And perhaps you’ve even said a few to yourself as well.
Speaking into another’s grief is a serious thing. It’s natural to want to say something that can help, but in the end, more often than not, speaking in these circumstances only makes the speaker feel better, not the griever. I remember when a couple dealing with the wife’s cancer looked at my pastor husband and I rather helplessly saying, “Everyone comes to us with these crazy remedies they want us to try and we just need someone to listen to us and share this with us – not tell us we need to do one more thing!” That was a huge lesson for me. It made everyone around them feel better to bring a fix-it, but it didn’t fix anything for that couple bearing this burden. If we really, purely want to help people, it has to be them-focused.
When Job’s friends came to mourn the loss of his children (and property and health) with him, they started out really well. They sat in silence with him…for days. Most of us don’t have friends that would just take off work and drop everything to come sit, and grieve in silence with us. So these aren’t “bad” friends, they were just human friends. They even tried to turn Job’s heart to the things of the Lord; but they just didn’t have God’s perspective on Job’s grief, so their counsel wasn’t truth. It’s interesting to me that while the book of Job isn’t chronologically the first book of the Old Testament, scholars believe it could be the oldest book. Almost like the Lord knew His children would face unimaginable grief and they would need a manual for it, so here was the book of Job, first, before any other written instruction.
“It came about after the Lord had spoken these words to Job, that the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends, because you have not spoken of Me what is right as My servant Job has” (Job 42:7 NAS).
This verse ought to warn us that speaking into grief might be above us. So here are a few what not-to-say/do and what-to-say/do ideas for caring for those who have lost a child:
Don’t tell her how to grieve. When Jesus walked the earth, He showed up at a few funerals and we never see Him tell anyone how they should grieve, but we do see Him grieve with the bereaved. In Luke 7, we are told that when Jesus saw a widow grieving the loss of her son, He was moved with compassion. He did tell her “not to weep”, but it was more of an expression of comfort to her because a moment later He raised her son from the dead. If even Jesus came with His compassion more than His perspective, we need to do the same for our friends who are grieving.
Don’t give her any Bible cliches. Job’s friends were like little walking cliche encyclopedias. It’s not the time to tell her that God works all things together for good. She’s grieving, and grief fills our receptors so enormously that her ability to even perceive “good” might be clouded; in fact, Old Testament or New, God never speaks about death lightly. It’s a profound, serious thing to Him. In Jonah 4:11, God even expresses His concern for the animals that could die in the city. So we should erase from our minds the notion that we need to speak some kind of grief-erasing-fix-it into someone else’s grief. Skip the simple fix answers — Grief doesn’t have one.
Don’t speak more than her. Don’t speak more than you have listened (James 1:19). This is a good piece of wisdom for most of life, but especially when walking alongside a grieving friend. When someone has lost a child, it could be intensely difficult to find the words to process that loss, so interrupting or jumping in with your words is a major processing derailment; or if she does have words, it could be that she is running over with words as she grasps at processing this grief and an outlet besides her husband could be a great blessing. My sister has loved me this way through a number of losses, especially our miscarriage, and it meant the world to me.
Don’t put expectations on her healing process. When my grandmother died, hospice sent us a grief packet. It explained the norms of grief, and one of them was that in a “normal” death situation (the person was ill and died expectedly, not a murder or suicide, not a child or unusual type of death), the average grief process takes 5 years to settle out. Not that you ever stop grieving the loss, but that it settles into a place of perspective and acceptance in yourself. Five years is an eternity when you are wracked with pain. But that simple statement of “give it five years” gave me more freedom toward myself and others to process grief as simply as it comes. In 2 Samuel 12, when David lost his little one, everyone thought that he would harm himself; instead, he got up from his fasting and worshipped. He and Bathsheba were intimate, and Scripture says that it comforted her. Not everyone would describe their grief after losing a child this way — most people wouldn’t. But it was their process and it is a blessing that the Lord gives us glimpses into the vast spectrum of how we are allowed to handle this monumental task of processing grief.
Don’t judge her. Scripture tells us to “Bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2). If there was ever an occasion to simply grab the burden of a sister and sling it on your back for a while, child loss would be it! Lift whatever burden you can, so she can process this loss. If the dishes are piled high, do them. If they are eating cereal for dinner, bring a hot meal – again and again; in fact, after some time has passed, have them over for dinner. Let her say whatever she needs to without the tiniest judgement. The intense losses I’ve grieved have stripped me down; it is a very raw place to be. It’s not a place of put-togetherness. So just let her be there.
Do have compassion and pray about how you can share that compassion with her.
Do let her share this experience with you as she feels comfortable. Pictures of a lost child and simply chatting over her memories of her lost child made one mom feel better, but not a grieving dad. Everyone is different, so let her lead.
Do look for a way to meet a physical, practical need while she is emotionally/spiritually processing. If the couple has other children, offer to babysit so they can get some time to process their grief together. Another blessing to the bereaved family that has little children would be having a house cleaner for a month.
Do remember the anniversary of her grief with prayer, and possibly a card.
Do pray often for her and let her know from time to time that you are.
“My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me” (Matthew 26:38). At the most difficult point of Jesus’ earthly life, He asked His friends to sit and pray (or keep watch) with Him. This is our best, Biblical instruction for how we can help our grieving friends: be with them and cover them with our prayers.
Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/KatarzynaBialasiewicz
April Motl is a pastor’s wife who loves to laugh, loves her man, loves to talk on the phone entirely too long and most of all, loves her Lord. Collaborating with the efforts of her husband Eric, the two of them share a ministry dedicated to bringing God’s Word into the everyday lives of married couples, men and women. April has been privileged through her own church and ministry outside her local body to share God’s Word with women ranging in ages and stages, across denominations, and walks of life. April is a graduate from Southern California Seminary and has written for Just Between Us Magazine, Dayspring’s (In)courage, and The Secret Place and also writes regularly for crosswalk.com, iBelieve.com and Women’s Ministry Tools. For more information, visit Motl Ministries at: www.MotlMinistries.com
Extreme pain—terrible loss—indescribable suffering! These are just a few of the feelings and emotions felt by parents who have lost a child. Obviously, there is nothing that can alleviate that pain except for consolation from the Lord, the love of family and friends, and the passing of time. God’s word is one of the tools that he uses, though, to comfort us during times of terrible grief and mourning. Here are my top 7 comforting Bible verses for those who have lost a child.
Psalm 30:11 “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness…”
God not only sympathizes with us when we suffer, but he also empathizes with us as well. His son died on the cross for our sins. So his love for us has an incredible way of turning things around on our behalf. Where there is grief and loss, God brings soothing and relief. Where there is pain and suffering, he brings peace and hope. Only he can turn our mourning into dancing and clothe us with gladness instead of despair during our darkest hours.
Psalm 103:3 “who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy…”
The book of Psalms has always been inspiring to me, because David wrote it as a man who had endured suffering as well as great successes in his life. He knew what it was like to suffer the loss of a child, and in this chapter he reminds us that it is God who redeems our life from the pit. Whether it is a pit of emotional despair over a loss or an illness, it is the Lord that will pick us up and take us out of the depths of sadness. He will also crown us with his steadfast love and mercy—both symbols of hope and reassurance.
Isaiah 61:3 “…to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.”
God’s heart grieves with those who are suffering, and he looks for ways to bring solace and consolation to us in the midst of those times. This verse reminds us of how he wants to bless us by turning things around in our circumstances. He cheers us by giving us a beautiful crown instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit. In Jeremiah 31:13b, the Lord also reassures us by sharing, “I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.” In other words, he brings us hope.
Psalm 23:4 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
This has always been a favorite passage for anyone suffering through pain and loss, as it reminds us that God is always with us. He knows what it is like to walk through the valley of death, so he is quick to comfort us. The Lord wants to take away our fear as well, as his perfect love casts out fear.
Matthew 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
Part of our human condition and existence is the fact that we will suffer loss during our lifetime. Here in the passage commonly referred to as the beatitudes, the Lord reminds us that all those who mourn will be blessed and comforted. If he takes care of the birds of the air, how much more will he offer us consolation when we need it.
2 Corinthians 1:5 “For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.”
This is one of my top verses, because it reminds us that Christ suffered the ultimate punishment for our sins while dying on the cross, and that we will also share in suffering as well. However, even though we will endure pain and loss in this life, we also will share in his comfort. The apostle Paul goes on to write in 2 Corinthians 13:11, “Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.” This verse speaks to me about how we can also encourage and console one another as well.
Revelation 21:4 “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
Hope—the Lord reminds us here about the second coming of the Lord, and the ultimate hope and comfort we will experience upon his return. At that point, he will wipe away all of our tears and offer us the relief and reassurance we need. He will take away our mourning and our loss, as death will finally be defeated. On that day, we will be able to rejoice fully knowing that all of our former suffering will be behind us forever.
It might seem impossible for the extreme sadness and grief we feel at the loss of a child to ever diminish or decrease; however, the Lord is our hope and our salvation, and he can turn our mourning into comfort. God wants to encourage us and relieve our suffering if we will just go to him at all times. And his word is powerful enough to bring healing and solace even during our darkest hours.