Catholic Prayers for Grief

Catholic Prayers for Grief

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The loss of a loved one is never easy. In many cases, those of us left behind often turn to our faith, looking for ways to manage grief and seek comfort. As one of the world's most popular and powerful religions, Catholicism has provided parishioners with ways to mourn those we lost, both to commemorate their lives and usher them to the next. Here are some Catholic prayers for bereaved families that may provide succor in your own time of mourning.

What Catholic Prayer Do You Say When Someone Dies?

While Catholicism is defined very much by its strict adherence to tradition, there is truly only one "official" prayer for the dead. The Catholic Catechism states quite clearly that the Eucharistic Sacrifice is considered the primary and most formal form of Catholic mourning prayer. Yet this isn't the only common type of organized and "official" prayer that is said for the dead; there are, indeed, quite a few others that are very commonly recited.

One of these is the traditional prayer read at the graveside during a traditional burial. This is commonly referred to as the Prayer for the Dead. The origin of this prayer is likely lost to time, but the most common wording, as stated by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, is the following, which is typically read aloud by the priest. The boldface "R" at the end indicates the response of those in attendance.

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.
R/. Amen.

Another common prayer for Catholic grief that's often associated with funerals and is also read by the graveside, again as recounted by the Conference of Bishops, is:

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 forever and ever.
R/. Amen.

What About a Catholic Prayer for the Bereaved Family?

Catholic prayers for grief go farther than simply commending the spirit of the departed to the next world. Many prayers are also used to provide comfort to mourners as well. Here's a Catholic mourning prayer that directly prays for those who have been left behind:

Lord God,
you are attentive to the voice of our pleading.
Let us find in your Son
comfort in our sadness,
certainty in our doubt,
and courage to live through this hour.
Make our faith strong
through Christ our Lord.
R/. Amen.

Another common prayer for mourners is the following:

[Name of the deceased] is gone now from this earthly dwelling,
and has left behind those who mourn his/her absence.
Grant that we may hold his/her memory dear,
never bitter for what we have lost
nor in regret for the past,
but always in hope of the eternal Kingdom
where you will bring us together again.
Through Christ our Lord.
R/. Amen.

Finally, there are prayers meant to comfort those left behind after the most tragic death imaginable - that of a young child. An example of such a prayer is the following:

O Lord, whose ways are beyond understanding,
listen to the prayers of your faithful people:
that those weighed down by grief
at the loss of this little child
may find reassurance in your infinite goodness.
Through Christ our Lord.
R/. Amen.

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Other Types of Catholic Mourning Prayer Forms

Because grief and mourning in the wake of the loss of a loved one can be intensely personal, there are no prohibitions against Catholics using their own words to pray, both for the soul of the deceased or for their own comfort. Many Catholics turn to scripture in these times, reciting lines from the Bible that comfort them and embody their conflicted emotions, and it's never inappropriate to include such lines of scripture in your own personal prayers when dealing with grief, mourning, or otherwise finding ways to cope with loss.

An oft-quoted line of scripture commonly associated with mourning and grief comes from The Book of Revelation, Chapter 21, Verse 4, which reads "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." There are other popular lines of scripture as well, including:

  • "Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted" (Matthew 5:4)
  • "My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever" (Psalm 73:26)
  • "The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit" (Psalm 34:18)

Finding the Right Catholic Prayers for Grief

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There are no wrong ways to pray when it comes to dealing with grief. Whether an officiant is performing the Eucharistic Sacrifice on behalf of the deceased, is reciting the "official" prayers for the dead and mourning during a funeral or a memorial service, or the bereaved is reciting their own prayer complete with an appropriate scripture, the goal is to lay the honored dead to rest and to comfort those afflicted with sorrow.

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