Your faith may be the only way you get through the anniversary of a loved one’s death — particularly when you have unresolved emotions and memories.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Death Anniversary Prayers for Mom and Dad
- Death Anniversary Prayers for a Spouse or Partner
- Death Anniversary Prayers for a Close Friend
Here are some comforting prayers you can pray with a community or in solitude to help you through this tough time.
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Death Anniversary Prayers for Mom and Dad
Losing your parents can change your entire world. They raised you, supported you, and taught you from the very beginning. These prayers are comforting after a parent’s death.
"Yizkor" from Judaism
Judaism centers around honor for parents. The mourning period for parents is long and intense. This prayer reflects your wish for a parent:
“May God remember the soul of my father, my teacher who has gone to his world because I will — without obligating myself with a vow — donate charity for his sake. In this merit, may his soul be bound up in the bond of life with the souls of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and with the other righteous men and women who are in Gan Eden and let us say Amen.”
"Yizkor” from Judaism
Replace “Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” to read “with the souls of Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah” for your mother. The Yizkor prayer continues at length. Here is an excerpt:
“May the all-merciful Father who dwells in the supernal heights, in his profound compassion, remember with mercy the pious, the upright and the perfect ones, the holy communities who gave their lives for the sanctification of the divine name. They were beloved and pleasant in their lives, and [even] in their death were not parted from him…”
"Death Anniversary Prayer" from Christianity
Taking time to care for yourself is important. This prayer gives you a moment to pray for your own strength.
“Loving heavenly Father, you know how troubled I am thinking about my loved one who has departed from this world. On this memorial day of my beloved one, I plead for your new strength and new grace which alone can carry me through the rest of my life.”
"Prayers on the Anniversary of a Deceased Person" from Catholicism
This prayer asks for everything you may want on this day: peace, rest, and light.
“O Lord, the God of mercies, grant unto the souls of thy servants the anniversary day of whose burial we are keeping, a place of solace, of peaceful rest, of glorious light. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.”
"For those who have died" from Anglicanism
This prayer focuses on the one constant through life and death: Christ’s love.
“Almighty and eternal God, from whose love in Christ we cannot be parted, either by death or life: hear our prayers and thanksgivings for all whom we remember this day; fulfill in them the purpose of your love; and bring us all, with them, to your eternal joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
Death Anniversary Prayers for a Spouse or Partner
Losing a spouse is a painful experience — here are a few prayers if you’ve found yourself grieving for your significant other.
"At a bereavement anniversary" from Anglicanism
This prayer acknowledges all the emotions you may feel right now: pain, loss, grief. It asks to be allowed to achieve hope again.
“Father, you know our hearts and share our sorrows. We are hurt by our parting from those whom we loved: when we are angry at the loss we have sustained, when we long for words of comfort, yet find them hard to hear, turn our grief to truer living, our affliction to firmer hope in Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.”
"Duas for the deceased" from Islam
This is a prayer for the deceased’s afterlife. It’s a request for forgiveness and mercy.
“O Allah, forgive [name of the person] and elevate his station among those who are guided. Send him along the path of those who came before, and forgive us and him, O Lord of the worlds. Enlarge for him his grave and shed light upon him in it.”
"The ceremony of Bhog" from Sikhism
In the Sikh religion, death anniversary celebrations aren't completed. This prayer, though, comes from a special ceremony and it’s a prayer that you can repeat at any time.
“All that we see must pass on and be gone from us / Slipping away like the shadows of clouds. / Such is the world a mere vision that perishes. Leaving the Lord our sole refuge and friend. Death must sever all family ties / With parents, brothers, wife, and sons / All relations must be severed. / This world is unreal, a deceitful mirage, / Reflect on this truth in your heart…”
“Prayer for the Deceased” from Buddhism
This prayer focus on the circle of life and how the world, and the people in it, are transient.
“The Buddha said, ‘Life is a journey. Death is a return to earth. The universe is like an inn. The passing years are like dust. Regard this phantom world as a star at dawn, a bubble in a stream, a flash of lightning in a summer cloud, a flickering lamp — a phantom — and a dream.’”
"Prayer for Mercy on the Souls in Purgatory” from Catholicism
This prayer focuses on how Jesus is a companion in your suffering because of his pain during the crucifixion.
“My Jesus, by the sorrows thou didst suffer in thine agony in the garden, in thy scourging and crowning with thorns, in the way to calvary, in thy crucifixion and death, have mercy on the souls in purgatory, and especially on those that are most forsaken. Do thou deliver them from the dire torments they endure; call them and admit them to thy most sweet embrace in paradise.”
Death Anniversary Prayers for a Close Friend
Losing a friend can feel like losing a family member. Here are a few prayers you can rely on to remember a close friend.
“A Buddhist Prayer for the Dead and Dying” from Buddhism
The power of prayer is a major tenet of Buddhism. This prayer references the power of the community.
“Oh, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas abiding in all directions, endowed with great compassion, endowed with foreknowledge, endowed with the divine eye, endowed with love, affording protection to sentient beings, please come forth through the power of your great compassion. Please accept these offerings, both actually presented and mentally created…”
"For Departed Loved Ones" from Catholicism
This one asks God to accept prayers offered on behalf of the deceased if they are in purgatory.
“Almighty God, who by the love which you have for men, have willed to take our humanity to live a life of hard work, to suffer a most cruel passion, and finally to die on the cross, I beseech you, by the infinite merits purchased for us with your precious blood, look mercifully on the suffering which is endured by the holy souls in purgatory. Accept, merciful God, the prayers which I offer for them, and call them to the glory of heaven…”
"Prayer after Death" from Islam
This prayer asks that the afterlife be better than the deceased’s current life on earth.
“O Allah, ease upon him his matters and make light for him whatever comes hereafter, and honor him with your meeting and make that which he has gone to better than that which he came out from.”
"Deep Peace to You" from Paganism
A focus on peace from nature and the cycle of life is a huge part of Paganism.
“Deep peace of the running wave to you, deep peace of the flowing air to you, deep peace of the quiet earth to you, deep peace of the shining stars to you, deep peace of the infinite peace to you.”
"A Prayer for Personal Loss" from Christianity
This prayer focuses on emotions and how it feels like the pain will never end.
“Lord, thank you for being my rock and my strength. I don't know why this happened. I know you have a plan for each of us. But right now I'm hurting, and that hurt runs deep. Lord, I know that you are a comfort for me, and I pray that you continue to be by my side through this time. It feels right now like this hurt will never go away. It feels right now like I'll never come out of this pain…”
Create a Prayer Tradition
Traditions are a great way to fill the emptiness that you may feel on the anniversary of a death. They provide new bonding activities that are meaningful to your religion. They can also pave the way for emotional healing.
Take the time to acknowledge your own pain and loss — it can allow you to recover and heal and still make memories with others.
Post-planning tip: If you are the executor for a deceased loved one, it's tough to handle both the emotional and technical aspects of their unfinished business without a way to organize your process. We have a post-loss checklist that will help you ensure that your loved one's family, estate, and other affairs are taken care of.
- Goldstein, Zalman. “Yizkor: The Memorial Prayer.” Chabad, n.d., www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/371509/jewish/Yizkor-The-Memorial-Prayer.htm
- “Prayers for Remembrance.” The Church of England, n.d., www.churchofengland.org/prayer-and-worship/topical-prayers/prayers-remembrance
- “The Sikhs and Their Way of Life.” Sikh Missionary Society, 2011, www.sikhmissionarysociety.org/sms/smspublications/thesikhsandtheirwayoflife/chapter6/#The_Death_Ceremony
- “The Sacred Rite of Passing.” The Druid Network, n.d., druidnetwork.org/what-is-druidry/rites-and-rituals/rites-passage/rites-of-passing/rite-of-passing-ero/