Prayers when someone dies

This page deals with the religious aspects of a death. Advise the parish priest at once when someone has died. Then contact an undertaker, who will require a Green Registration Document at some point, but will advise you on what to do. Tell the undertaker which priest will officiate.

The parish priest will make an appointment to see you, and will discuss the form of service. You will get an opportunity to choose hymns and any special prayers.

Funeral customs and practices may vary, but normally the deceased is taken to a Chapel of Rest at the undertaker’s premises for a few days while other arrangements are proceeded with. On the evening before the funeral, the deceased is taken to church in the coffin and lies in overnight. The next day, a Requiem Mass is said. If this is followed by an interment (burial), then this is done at the cemetery immediately after the Mass.

Alternatively, the deceased may be cremated. The ashes of the deceased may not be available for at least a couple of days, but once they are, then they may be interred at a local cemetery, or they may be transported some distance before interment. You may ask the priest to preside both at the cremation and any subsequent interment a few days later.

It is common for the Rosary to be said in the days before the funeral. On the evening before the funeral you may say the five Glorious Mysteries in Church. Mention this to the priest, who may recommend someone to pray with you. Working back from this, you may wish to make one or more private visits to the Chapel of Rest to say preceding parts of the Rosary at the rate of five decades per day. You may also pray the rest of the Rosary at home with your family.

If you pray the Rosary over three days, then choose the Joyful Mysteries, the Sorrowful Mysteries and the Glorious Mysteries. If you pray over four days, then choose the Joyful Mysteries, the Luminous Mysteries, the Sorrowful Mysteries and the Glorious Mysteries. A five-day sequence can be constructed by starting with the Chaplet of Divine Mercy before the Rosary, which would be most appropriate if this prayer were known to the deceased. If the funeral is held in October, then the October Prayer to St Joseph may also be included after the Rosary. Otherwise you might choose a prayer such as the Litany of the Saints or the Litany of Loreto if these prayers were favourites of the deceased. See the Appendix below for a suggested full programme.

Visits to the Chapel of Rest are informal in character. A visit to church on the evening before the funeral is a more formal occasion. The Requiem Mass, the Interment or the Cremation are formal. An interment of ashes a few days after a funeral is relatively informal.

Sometimes the deceased is kept at home rather than in a Chapel of Rest, and this was a common practice until recently. If you do this, then you can of course say the Rosary every day in the presence of the deceased. The Angelus is also suitable, as are any of the other prayers indicated. 

For the Requiem Mass, you will be able to choose the readings and about four hymns. Consider hymns which everybody can sing, based upon experience. If the deceased was born in another country, consider a hymn related to a patron saint, such as Hail Glorious St Patrick or St Patrick’s Breastplate. The latter hymn is also suitable for any British national born outside the British Isles. Note that the hymn Hail Queen of Heaven, the Ocean Star specifically mentions the mourner and was composed in County Durham. 

It is common to ask specific saints for their intercession during the Mass, particularly if the deceased was born in another country. For persons born in England, we have St Peter as Patron Saint of England, St George as Protector, St Alban as Protomartyr, St Bede as the first historian, and St Cuthbert as the patron of the first kings of all England. There also many other great English saints!

The epistles at the Requiem Mass may be read by family members. A short eulogy may be read, but do keep it short. A leaflet may be produced giving details such as the location of the Church, the location of the cemetery or crematorium, the venue of the reception, the readings and hymns. Stick to a plain “Order of Service” style of presentation rather than anything too colourful or elaborate. God takes precedence at a Requiem Mass as at any other time.

After the funeral, there may be a reception where everybody may relax a little. In Ireland this reception can last more than one day, and is known informally as a wake (strictly the wake is the time when the deceased lies in at home). You may see something like this after a funeral in England because at least some of the people there will know the Irish custom. Generally time slows down during a funeral. Don’t be in a hurry over anything.

If a funeral has to be arranged, it may be a good idea to divide up the various responsibilities. Someone has to handle the Green Registration Document, and later to collect the Death Certificates, advise relatives, stop any pensions, and so on. You need a prayer leader in the absence of a priest or deacon, particularly if you make your own visit(s) to the Chapel of Rest or you have the deceased lying in at home. You need people to provide refreshments, to greet anyone travelling a long distance at the railway station or airport and to escort them back afterwards, and to make sure everybody knows where the church, cemetery or crematorium and venue for the reception are located. It is advisable to delegate all this at the start.


When someone has died, something more elaborate is as follows:

On the first evening you could say the Five Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary followed by the Litany of the Saints. This takes about 25 minutes and may be at home or at the Chapel of Rest.

On the second evening, if circumstances permit, you could say the Five Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary followed by the Litany of the Saints. This may be omitted if it is awkward, and you may say these prayers at home or at the Chapel of Rest.

On the next evening, you could say the Five Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary followed by the Chaplet of Divine Mercy as if in Holy Week and Eastertide. This also takes about 25 minutes and may be at home or at the Chapel of Rest.

On the final evening the deceased is taken into church. In church say the Five Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary, the Litany of Loreto, the De Profundis and Eternal Rest. This should be discussed with the priest.

It is always a sad feeling whenever someone close dies, one of the most difficult things for most people to do is to find the right things to say when someone dies. It’s also very difficult to find something to say to the people affected when someone close to them dies, those undesirable moments has a way of putting us at a loss for words, it can be very difficult to express how we feel during those times. You can say, “You have my deepest, sincerest sympathy.” “You’re in my thoughts and prayers,” and maybe that’s true. Maybe you actually know what to think or pray on that person’s behalf. What about words like “I understand…”  “I know how you feel…”
Do you really understand? The fact still remains that words can actually go a long way in amending the broken heart. Here are some words to say when someone dies

Good things to say when someone dies

1. “These things are never easy to write, and with a heavy heart I extend my deepest condolences to you during this dark time. I’m here if you need anything.”

2. “I hope that the love and support from your family and friends, including me, gets you through this time. You’re in my prayers.”

.3. “I wish you nothing but comfort and strength. Rest in peace, _________.”

4. “I’ve never really written a sympathy card before so forgive me if this doesn’t come out sounding right. I am so sorry to hear about this loss and am deeply saddened. If you need anything, know that you’re not alone. I’m here for you.”

5. “While there’s nothing I can do to change what happened, I can continue to offer you my love and support.

6. Extending my most heartfelt condolences to you and your family.”

7. “You have my deepest, sincerest sympathy.”

8. “I am praying for you during your time of loss. Know that we are all thinking of you.”

9. “We want to let you know that we are here for you if you need anything. Expect us to call you soon—you are welcome to come over whenever you want.”

10. 1″I know that _________ was well loved and respected. He had great character and a big heart.”

11. 1″Our sympathy is with you in your time of grieving.”

12. “Cheer up. Your (loved one who died) wouldn’t want you to be sad.”

13. “When you love deeply, you grieve deeply,” Heitger-Ewing writes. “Grievers need to be sad in order to get to the other side of grief.”

14. “Focus on all the blessings in your life.” (They are usually incapable of doing this.)

See Also: Famous And Popular Sayings

15. “She’s/he’s in a better place.” (The pain is still very real.)

16. “My deepest condolences to you and your family during this dark time. Please know that our family is keeping you and yours in our prayers and thoughts.”

17. “May all the sweet memories of ___________ bring you solace during this time. I hope that all the great moments that you were able to have with him/her before she/he passed away brings you comfort.”

18. “My heartfelt condolences to you during this time of sorrow. You’re in my thoughts and prayers and I’m here for whatever you need.”

19. “I hope the love and support from your loved ones bring you peace during this difficult time. My heartfelt sympathies to you.”

20. “There is no hurting, no suffering, and no pain in Heaven. While we grieve his/her physical loss, please be comforted by the fact that he/she is in a far better place now.”

21. “Extending my most heartfelt sympathy to you and your family.”

22. “I am at a loss for words. I know there is nothing for me to say that will make your loss easier but know that I am sending you my love and support. I hope you can understand what I can’t put into words.”

23. “Love knows no boundaries. While ________ is no longer physically with us, his/her spirit is always around us. My deepest condolences.”

24. “I have never been good at writing in cards, but I don’t want that to keep me from letting you know the deep sympathy I feel for you at this time.”

More Consoling Things to Say When Someone Dies

25. “Those who love us never go away. I hope you know that even during this dark time, __________ will always be with you in spirit.”

prayers when someone dies

26. “The loss of someone dear to us is never easy. I hope all the cherished memories that you have of ________ brings you some light during this dark time. My deepest condolences.”

27. “Please know that you’re in my thoughts and prayers. My sincerest condolences for an incredibly great loss. I’ll never forget _________.”

28. “I was so saddened to hear about _________ passing. I hope and pray that you will have strength during this time of loss.”

29. “My deepest condolences to you during this time. Know that you are not alone and that if you ever need to talk, please don’t hesitate to reach out.”

30. “I can’t imagine how you’re feeling right now and I won’t pretend to know the loss that you’re experiencing. Please know that you’re not alone and I’m just a phone call away. If you ever need any support or someone to talk to, please don’t hesitate to reach out.”

See Also: Great Things To Say About Family

31. “I’ll bring you some lasagna next Tuesday.” (Or offer another specific way of helping.)

32. “Would you like to talk about your loved one?”(People often want to talk about their loved one, but just need to be prompted.)

33. “How are you doing?” (Make sure you take time to listen to the response.)

34. “It’s been awhile since he/she died. It’s time you get over it.” (Never, ever say this.)

35. “Cherish all of the wonderful memories. They will bring you peace.” (Not particularly helpful.)

36. “Pull yourself together because you need to be there for your kids.” (Instead, you should offer to help with the kids.)

37. I feel your pain.” (Do not say, “I know exactly how you feel.”)

38. “How about a hug?” (Or just give them a hug.)

39. “I’m here for you.” (And then be there.)

40. “We all have to deal with loss”

41. “You shouldn’t feel this way”

42. I don’t know how you feel, but I am here to help in anyway I can.

43. You and your loved one will be in my thoughts and prayers.

44. Give a hug instead of saying something.

45. We all need help at times like this, I am here for you.

46. I am usually up early or late, if you need anything.

47. Saying nothing, just be with the person.

48. “I can’t imagine what you’re going through right now.”

49. “At least his/her suffering is over”

50. “Things will be normal again soon”

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