Prayers for mourning a death

Between Two Worlds

The time between life and death is considered extremely sacred in Jewish tradition. On one hand, the passage marks the conclusion of the soul’s journey on earth. On the other hand, death heralds the beginning of the soul’s eternal life in Heaven.

Kabbalah teaches that at the moment of passing, every positive thought, word, or deed that occurred during the person’s life is concentrated into a pristine spiritual light. This light is revealed to the world and in the Heavenly spheres, where it continues to shine and have an effect on those above and below.

Prayers for the Final Moments

1) Psalm 121

Hebrew and Transliteration:

prayers for mourning a death

Translation:

A Song of Ascents.
I lift my eyes to the mountains — from where will my help come?
My help will come from the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot falter; your guardian does not slumber.
Indeed, the Guardian of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps.
The Lord is your guardian; the Lord is your protective shade at your right hand.
The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord will guard you from all evil; He will guard your soul.
The Lord will guard your going and your coming from now and for all time.

2) Psalm 130

Hebrew and Transliteration:

prayers for mourning a death

Translation:

A Song of Ascents.
Out of the depths I call to You, O Lord.
My Lord, hearken to my voice; let Your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas.
G‑d, if You were to preserve iniquities, my Lord, Who could survive?
But forgiveness is with You, that You may be feared.
I hope in the Lord; my soul hopes, and I long for His word.
My soul yearns for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, wait for the morning.
Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord there is kindness; with Him there is abounding deliverance.
And He will redeem Israel from all its iniquities.

3) Psalm 91

Hebrew and Transliteration:

prayers for mourning a death

Translation:

You Who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, Who abides in the shadow of the Omnipotent,
I say of the Lord Who is my refuge and my stronghold, my G‑d in Whom I trust,
that He will save you from the ensnaring trap, from the destructive pestilence.
He will cover you with His pinions and you will find refuge under His wings; His truth is a shield and an armor.
You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day,
the pestilence that prowls in the darkness, nor the destruction that ravages at noon.
A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right, but it shall not reach you.
You need only look with your eyes, and you will see the retribution of the wicked.
Because you “The Lord is my shelter,” and you have made the Most High your haven,
no evil will befall you, no plague will come near your tent.
For He will instruct His angels in your behalf, to guard you in all your ways.
They will carry you in their hands, lest you hurt your foot on a rock.
You will tread upon the lion and the viper; you will trample upon the young lion and the serpent.
Because he desires Me, I will deliver him; I will fortify him for he knows My Name.
When he calls on Me, I will answer him; I am with him in distress, I will deliver him and honor him.
I will satisfy him with long life, and show him My deliverance.

4) Adon Olam

Hebrew and Transliteration:

prayers for mourning a death

Translation:

Lord of the universe, Who reigned
before anything was created —
at the time when by His will all things were made,
then was His name proclaimed King.
And after all things shall cease to be,
the Awesome One will reign alone.
He was, He is,
and He shall be in glory.
He is one, and there is no other
to compare to Him, to consort with Him.
Without beginning, without end,
power and dominion belong to Him.
He is my G‑d and my ever-living Redeemer,
the strength of my lot in time of distress.
He is my banner and my refuge,
my portion on the day I call.
Into His hand I entrust my spirit,
when I sleep and when I wake.
And with my soul, my body too,
the Lord is with me, I shall not fear.

5) Ana B’choach

Hebrew and Transliteration:

prayers for mourning a death

Translation:

We implore you, by the great power of Your right hand, release the captive.
Accept the prayer of Your people; strengthen us, purify us, Awesome One.
Mighty One, we beseech You, guard as the apple of the eye those who seek Your Oneness.
Bless them, cleanse them; bestow upon them forever Your merciful righteousness.
Powerful, Holy One, in Your abounding goodness, guide Your congregation.
Only and Exalted One, turn to Your people who are mindful of Your holiness.
Accept our supplication and hear our cry, You Who knows secret thoughts.
Blessed be the name of the glory of His kingdom forever and ever.

6) V’al Ken Ne’kaveh

Hebrew and Transliteration:

prayers for mourning a death

Translation:

And therefore we hope to You, Lord our G‑d, that we may speedily behold the splendor of Your might, to banish idolatry from the earth and false G‑ds will be utterly destroyed; to perfect the world under the sovereignty of the Almighty. All mankind shall invoke Your Name, to turn to You all the wicked of the earth. Then all the inhabitants of the world will recognize and know that every knee should bend to You, every tongue should swear . Before You, Lord our G‑d, they will bow and prostrate themselves, and give honor to the glory of Your Name; and they will all take upon themselves the yoke of Your kingdom. May You soon reign over them forever and ever, for kingship is Yours, and to all eternity You will reign in glory, as it is written in Your Torah: The Lord will reign forever and ever. And it is said: The Lord shall be King over the entire earth; on that day the Lord shall be One and His Name One.

7) The Shema and verses of unity

At the very last moments, all present, including the person himself (if possible), recite the following passages aloud, and with intense concentration:

prayers for mourning a death

translation: Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our G‑d, the Lord is One.

Recite the following verse in an undertone:
prayers for mourning a death

translation: Blessed be the name of the glory of His kingdom forever and ever. (Say three times.)

Recite the following verse out loud:
prayers for mourning a death

translation: G‑d is the Lord. (Say seven times.)

prayers for mourning a death

translation: The Lord is King, the Lord was King, the Lord will be King forever and ever.

www.chabad.org

Kaddish

Kaddish is the Jewish prayer for mourners. It’s said every day for eleven months after the death of a family member. After that it is repeated yearly on the anniversary of the death.

It marks a completion. Its meaning is unimportant. The sound of the words, spoken in ancient Aramaic, is what is important. The rhythm. The melody. The comfort of the words.

In Night Elie Wiesel wrote of men reciting Kaddish for themselves as they approached their deaths. He wrote about his anger with G-d. Why should he sanctify a G-d who allowed the crematoria? Still the prayer rose inside him.

As it rises in many of us.

I need your help

I am collecting recordings of people saying and chanting the Kaddish for a soundscape.

Make a sound recording or video of you, your friends, your minion, your congregation, your family saying Kaddish. You can use the microphone on your phone. You can use a better microphone if you have one. It’s okay to send me video files even. Whatever you can do is welcome.

Sending your files to me

You can send me files from your computer or smartphone using the following link:

https://www.dropbox.com/request/8abXNn6Gj6CGxT540xku

prayers for mourning a deathRecord your reading from your telephone

You can also make a recording of your prayers of Kaddish using your telephone. Here’s how to record your message:

1) Call LifeOnRecord, +1-800-437-3009 by May 1, 2017
2) When prompted, enter your Invitation Number:
3) Record your message after the tone. When finished you can either hang up or press the # key. If you press the # key you’ll be given options to listen to your recording, accept your recording, or re-record it.

If you are not in the US and Canada, find a local number here:

The flower burning in the Day—and what comes after…

Babi Yar (Babin Yar) 2016. Nineteen years before I was born 33,700 Jews were killed in a massacre 2 miles from the center of Kiev in a wooded area called Babi Yar.

A few days after the Germans took Kiev on September 11, 1941, signs began appearing ordering Jews to appear near the site of the Jewish cemetery.

Failure to do so, the signs read, would result in being shot on sight.

The Jews thought it was for resettlement. Another resettlement. It wouldn’t be the first time.

Eighteen days after the Germans took Kiev, the massacre began.

This was one of the first huge mass executions of Jews by the Nazis. It was the beginning of the Final Solution.

The killing continued throughout the war. An uncounted number of Roma and Ukrainians were also killed there.

Who was killed at Babi Yar and how many exactly, may remain a mystery. When whole families are wiped out, there is no one left to count them.

Towards the end of World War II, the bodies were dug up. The bones smashed. What was left, burned. The history of the place was repressed first by the Nazis and then by the Soviets. Still, it would not remain a secret.

Today it is a rambling park. Construction crews work to reshape it. Kitsch sculptures mark the locations where Jews were killed. A menorah. A child with a headless doll. A stack of heroic bodies.

A highway borders the site. There is no west or east. No south or north.

prayers for mourning a death

Broken tombstones from a small Jewish cemetery in Babi Yar. Taken July 13, 2016.

The prayers you share are for them. They will be part of a soundscape (like a landscape painting, but made of sound) that I am creating specifically for the site.

Thank you for participating.

Please share with others.

www.egherman.com

The Church prays for the dead, and this prayer says much about the reality of the Church itself. It says that the Church continues to live in the hope of eternal life. Prayer for the dead is almost a battle with the reality of death and destruction that weighs down upon the earthly existence of man. This is and remains a particular revelation of the Resurrection. In this prayer Christ himself bears witness to the life and immortality to which God calls every human being.

Gathering in the Presence of the Body

When the family first gathers around the body, before or after it is prepared for burial, all or some of the following prayers may be used. It is most fitting that family members take part in preparing the body for burial.

All make the Sign of the Cross:  In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
R. Amen.

Then one member of the family reads:

My brothers and sisters, Jesus says: “Come to me, all you who labor and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.”

The body may then be sprinkled with holy water.

The Lord God lives in his holy temple
yet abides in our midst.
Since in Baptism N. became God’s temple,
and the spirit of God lived in him (her),
with reverence we bless his (her) mortal body.

Then one member of the family may say:

With God there is mercy and fullness of redemption.
Let us pray as Jesus taught us:  Our Father.

Then this prayer is said:  Into your hands, O Lord,
we humbly entrust our brother (sister) N.
In this life you embraced him (her)
with your tender love;
deliver him (her) now from every evil
and bid him (her) enter eternal rest.
The old order has passed away:
welcome him (her), then, into paradise,
where there will be no sorrow,
no weeping or pain,
but the fullness of peace and joy
with your Son and the Holy Spirit
for ever and ever.
R. Amen.

All may sign the forehead of the deceased with the Sign of the Cross. One member of the family says:

Blessed are those who have died in the Lord;
let them rest from their labors,
for their good deeds go with them.

V. Eternal rest grant unto him (her), O Lord.
R. And let perpetual light shine upon him (her).

V. May he (she) rest in peace.
R. Amen.

V. May his (her) soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
R. Amen.

All make the Sign of the Cross as one member of the family says:

May the love of God and the peace
of the Lord Jesus Christ
bless and console us
and gently wipe every tear from our eyes:
in the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
R. Amen.

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 brother (sister).

Lord Jesus, holy and compassionate,
forgive N. his (her) sins.
By dying you opened the gates of life
for those who believe in you:
do not let our 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.  
R. Amen.

Prayers at the Graveside

Aside from the time of mourning, the month of November, including especially All Saints’ day and All Souls’ day, is a traditional time for visiting graves, as is the anniversary of death. Some or all of the following prayers may be used at the graveside of a family member or friend.

All make the Sign of the Cross. The leader begins:

Praise be to God our Father, who raised Jesus
Christ from the dead. Blessed be God for ever.

All respond:

Blessed be God for ever.

The following Scripture text may be read:  2 Cor 5: 1

We know that if our earthly dwelling, a tent, should be destroyed, we have a building from God, a dwelling not made with hands, eternal in heaven.

After a time of silence, all join in prayers of intercession, or in one of the litanies or other prayers. All then join hands for the Lord’s Prayer:  Our Father.

Then the leader prays:

Lord God,
whose days are without end
and whose mercies are beyond counting,
keep us mindful that life is short and the hour of death is unknown.
Let your Spirit guide our days on earth
in the ways of holiness and justice,
that we may serve you in union with the whole Church,
sure in faith, strong in hope, perfected in love.
And when our earthly journey is ended,
lead us rejoicing into your kingdom,
where you live for ever and ever. 
R. Amen.

or:

Lord Jesus Christ,
by your own three days in the tomb,
you hallowed the graves of all who believe in you
and so made the grave a sign of hope
that promises resurrection,
even as it claims our mortal bodies.
Grant that our brother (sister) N.
may sleep here in peace
until you awaken him (her) to glory,
for you are the resurrection and the life.
Then he (she) will see you face to face
and in your light will see light
and know the splendor of God,
for you live and reign for ever and ever.
R. Amen.

V. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,
R. And let perpetual light shine upon them.

V. May they rest in peace.
R. Amen.

V. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
R. Amen.

All make the Sign of the Cross as the leader concludes:

May the peace of God,
which is beyond all understanding,
keep our hearts and minds
in the knowledge and love of God
and of his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
R. Amen.

Additional Prayers for the Dead

V. Do not remember my sins, O Lord,
R. When you come to judge the world by fire.

V. Direct my way in your sight, O Lord, my God,
R. When you come to judge the world by fire.

V. Give him (her) eternal rest, O Lord, and may your light shine on him (her) for ever,
R. When you come to judge the world by fire,

V. Lord, have mercy,
R. Christ, have mercy, Lord, have mercy.

All : Our Father . . . trespass against us.

V. And lead us not into temptation,
R. But deliver us from evil.

V. From the gates of hell,
R. Deliver his (her) soul, O Lord.

V. May he (she) rest in peace.
R. Amen.

V. Lord, hear my prayer,
R. And let my cry come to you.

V. The Lord be with you.
R. And also with you.

Let us pray. 
Lord, welcome into your presence your son (daughter) N., whom you have called from this life. Release him (her) from all his (her) sins; bless him (her) with eternal light and peace; raise him (her) up to live for ever with all your saints in the glory of the Resurrection.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.

For a parent:

Let us pray.
Almighty God, you command us to honor father and mother. In your mercy forgive the sins of my (our) parents and let me (us) one day see him (her) again in the radiance of eternal joy.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.

For a brother or sister:

Let us pray.
God, our Maker and Redeemer, in your mercy hear my (our) prayer. Grant forgiveness and peace to my (our) brother (sister) N. and N., who longed for your mercy.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.

V. Give him (her) eternal rest, O Lord.
R. And may your light shine on him (her) for ever.

V. May he (she) rest in peace.
R. Amen.

V. May his (her) soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
R. Amen.

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