It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when someone you know dies. You want to do something to help their family, but you don’t want to crowd them while they’re grieving. Even just asking how you can help feels intrusive.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Popular Funeral Prayers for the Deceased’s Family
- Popular Funeral Prayers for the Deceased’s Children
Sometimes doing something as simple as saying a prayer can help relieve some of your anxiety and grief. You can know you’re doing something kind without feeling like you’re invading their privacy during a sensitive time.
Here, we’ve gathered some brief funeral prayers you can say in support of the family of the deceased.
Tip: If you think the family would enjoy a prayer you see here, you can share it with them in several ways. If they created an online memorial page with a service like GatheringUs, you could share the prayer you choose there. Another option is giving the family a sympathy note with the poem written on it.
Popular Funeral Prayers for the Deceased’s Family
There are many different kinds of prayers you can say for the family members of the deceased. You can send prayers for hope. You can say prayers of peace. You can recite prayers of strength. These poems have been compiled from several major religions. All contain messages of comfort.
1. “Psalm 23” from Christianity
This psalm is one of the most well-known passages from any religion. It’s been quoted endlessly in films, books, and plays because it paints a beautiful picture and has serious emotional heft. You might know these lines the best:
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
For you are with me”
2. “Ecclesiastes 3:1-8” from Christianity
This passage is so poetic that it was actually adapted into a pop song in the early 1960s. It paints an evocative picture of the way life evolves. Every positive action has a negative action that goes along with it. The joys and the sorrows we encounter in life are both necessary. Without the bad, we cannot truly appreciate the good.
“A time to weep and a time to laugh,
A time to mourn and a time to dance,
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
A time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing”
3. “Celtic Death Blessing” from Ancient Celtic Christianity
This death blessing seeks to bring comfort to those who are left behind after someone dies. It expresses the wish that everyone continues to live their lives and thrive, even in the face of unimaginable grief. This excerpt captures that message:
“May you have a wonderful urgency to live your life to the full. May you live compassionately and creatively and transfigure everything that is negative within you and about you. When you come to die may it be after a long life.”
4. “Grief Blessing” from Apache Tradition
This prayer is short, simple, and sweet. It reminds family members that there is still so much in the world that can inspire feelings of love and joy within us. Living in the world can also remind family members of the good moments they shared with those we have lost.
“May the sun bring you energy every day, bringing light into the darkness of your soul.
May the moon softly restore you by light bathing you in the glow of restful sleep and peaceful dreams.
May the rain wash away your worries, and cleanse the hurt that sits in your heart.
May the breeze blow new strength into your being, and may you believe in the courage of yourself.
May you walk gently through the world, keeping your loved one with you always, knowing that you are never parted in the beating of your heart.”
5. “The King of Prayers” from Tibetan Buddhism
In Buddhism, there is a belief that we are all trapped in an endless cycle of birth and death. Our goal should be to help people feel freedom, even when they might be grieving someone’s death. These words seek to soothe some of the chaos that someone might feel while mourning:
“May I purify an ocean of worlds,
May I free an ocean of beings,
May I clearly see an ocean of Dharma,
May I realize an ocean of pristine wisdom.
May I purify an ocean of activities,
May I fulfill an ocean of aspirations”
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6. “Prayer for a Stillborn Child” from Catholicism
If a wanted child dies at birth, it can be heartbreaking for parents. Even though they didn’t have much time with their child, they still must deal with the loss of a lifetime of hopes and dreams. This poem can offer peace and solace to the child’s parents and other relatives:
ever caring and gentle
we commit to your love this little one,
quickened to life for so short a time.
Enfold him/her in eternal life.
We pray for his/her parents
who are saddened by the loss of their child.
Give them courage
and help them in their pain and grief.
May they all meet one day
in the joy and peace of your kingdom.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Popular Funeral Prayers for the Deceased’s Children
Many family members are affected when a person dies - their spouse, parents, siblings, grandparents, and more. But death can be especially hard on children who may not understand its finality. These poems from numerous major religions were written specifically for children.
7. “Joshua 1:9” from Christianity
This Bible verse can be read as is, or it can be adapted into a prayer in your own words. Its goal is to communicate the importance of strength. You can use these words to pray for resilience for the children of the deceased:
“Have I not commanded you?
Be strong and courageous.
Do not be afraid;
do not be discouraged,
for the Lord your God
will be with you wherever you go.”
8. “Healing Prayer” from Catholicism
While this prayer is officially rooted in Catholic traditions, its message is good for people of all faiths. You can use this to pray for the emotional and spiritual health of children who are in mourning.
“Source of all life and healing,
Be with me in this time of physical, emotional and spiritual need.
Help me cope with the challenges I am facing.
Comfort and encourage those who love and care and whose lives have been unsettled and disrupted by illness.
I pray for patience and for understanding.
I pray for strength and wisdom.
I pray for healing and for inner peace.”
9. “Meditation” from Judaism
This prayer is frequently recited as part of a Jewish funeral or during the mourning period. It’s a great prayer of encouragement to help people look for positivity even in their darkest times:
“O Shepherd of Israel, Who dost neither slumber nor sleep, we are the people of Thy pasture and the sheep of Thy hand. Enfold us safely in Thy love. And if in our grief and loneliness and moments of desolation, we should stray from following Thee, O leave us not, faithful Shepherd, but draw us near unto Thee.”
10. “Cheyenne Prayer for Peace” from Cheyenne Tradition
Sometimes when a child is going through a loss, we can’t make them feel better. All we can do is hope that the child will find peace. This blessing carries a lovely message expressing that sentiment.
“Let us know peace.
For as long as the moon shall rise,
For as long as the rivers shall flow,
For as long as the sun shall shine,
For as long as the grass shall grow,
Let us know peace.”
11. “Prayer For Youth” from Buddhism
While this isn’t overtly a funeral prayer, it’s still a great one to say on behalf of children. It can help them through this challenging time, and beyond.
“May the children of the world grow constantly
In spiritual awareness and peace consciousness.
May more and more young people each day
Find the wisdom of simply being and awakening.
May we all find the alert stillness of our Buddha natures.”
12. “Untitled” from Secular Humanism
Sometimes you may know someone shares a different faith from you, or may not even follow any religion. In that case, a more secular or interdenominational prayer can bring you comfort. This one is well-suited to say for children.
“In all parts of ourselves, we are all connected. With every breath, we share this world. May we always feel our connection to those suffering, and to all in our world. May they find resilience in memories of the suffering they’ve faced before and in the power offered by their connection to others.”
Funeral Prayers Honor the Family of the Deceased
It’s hard knowing exactly how to support friends and family members who are grieving a lost loved one. Some people welcome practical gestures of help, like prepared meals. Others want someone to listen to them. Others still prefer to be left alone.
If you want to help but don’t know how, sometimes prayer can help you feel like you’re making an impact. Christian funeral prayers as well as prayers from other religions can help bring solace during uncertain times. Even if the person you’re praying for doesn’t know about it, it can still give you the strength to support them to the best of your ability.