Losing a father or a stepfather is truly a devastating loss, and few words can feel supportive when in the midst of such a loss. For many centuries, people have turned to the comfort of prayers when they are lost and unsure of how to move forward. Prayers over the death of a father or stepfather can be a source of light and healing.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Catholic Prayers for the Death of a Father
- Short Prayers for Death of a Father
- Prayers for the Death of a Father-in-Law
- Prayers for a Father’s Death Anniversary
While they do not change the circumstances, they can be a way to see the next hour or next day ahead of you. Prayers can be part of building resilience and offering remembrance for someone important in your life.
If you’re looking for a prayer to share with a loved one whose father or stepfather has died, read below to find the one that speaks to you.
Tip: If someone in your life is coping with the death of a father, they might be facing a number of complex tasks. From writing an obituary to understanding grief, our post-loss checklist can help with the process.
Catholic Prayers for the Death of a Father
The Catholic tradition includes a wide range of liturgy, set prayers, and readings that can bring comfort in times of acute grief. The reminders of God’s love and provision can be a source of light in a tough and dark time.
1. A Short Prayer from Catholicism
“Holy Mary, pray for me.
Saint Joseph, pray for me.
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, assist me in my last agony.”
This traditional Catholic prayer enlists both the love from Mary, Joseph, and God’s son Jesus to pray for you in your time of need. It is the other trio that provides support and inspiration when things may go awry.
2. A Short Prayer from Catholicism
by whose mercy the faithful departed find rest,
send your holy Angel to watch over this grave.
Through Christ our Lord.”
When burying a father or stepfather, this prayer can bring some comfort to those who have hope of angels and God’s protection.
3. “Prayer for the Dead” from Catholicism
“God our Father,
Your power brings us to birth,
Your providence guides our lives,
and by Your command we return to dust.
Lord, those who die still live in Your presence,
their lives change but do not end.
I pray in hope for my family,
relatives and friends,
and for all the dead known to You alone.
In company with Christ,
Who died and now lives,
may they rejoice in Your kingdom,
where all our tears are wiped away.
Unite us together again in one family,
to sing Your praise forever and ever.
This prayer focuses on the life that comes after this one, commending the spirit of our loved father or stepfather into the hands of God.
Short Prayers for Death of a Father
When you need something to think of and connect to in the wake of a loss of a father, consider these short prayers that can help you feel connected and close in spite of his death.
4. “As We Live” from Judaism
“As long as we live, they too will live; for they are now are apart of us; as we remember them.”
This prayer from Judaism is brief but powerful, making it clear that one response to overwhelming grief is a resolute commitment to maintain their memory. It can turn one’s sad thoughts and recollections to how to live a good life that would honor one’s father.
5. Untitled Catholic Prayer
“To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul.” (Ps 25:1)
The book of Psalms is full of many entreaties in that book of the holy texts, and this verse in particular can be a simple thing to pray when nothing else seems to do justice to one’s grief. It can allow you to show your vulnerability and unhappiness without needing many words to showcase it, through the belief that God understands the soul.
Prayers for the Death of a Father-in-Law
Losing one’s father-in-law, especially after many years of marriage, is no less a difficulty, and you may be focused on caring for your spouse in their grief. Here are some prayers for yourself and for your spouse to consider as you mourn and recover from loss.
6. Untitled Catholic Prayer
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.
If you find that your spouse is struggling deeply with the loss of their father, this prayer offers words to push through hour to hour. Grief has a tendency to warp time, making it unbearable for those who are suffering.
7. “At a bereavement” from Church of England
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.
By focusing on the feelings of the grieving, this prayer from the Church of England can be a helpful way to focus after the immediate shock of the loss has passed. You can use this prayer to comfort those around you who are also grieving.
8. “A Buddhist Prayer for the Dead and Dying”
“Oh Buddhas and Bodhisattvas abiding in all directions…Please come forth through the power of your great compassion,
Please accept these offerings, both actually presented and mentally created.
Oh Compassionate Ones…
[...] is passing from this world to the next,
[He/she] is taking a great leap,
The light of this world has faded for [him/her],
[He/she] has entered solitude with their karmic forces,
[He/she] has gone into a vast silence,
[He/she] is borne away by the great ocean of birth and death...
Oh Compassionate Ones, protect [...] who is defenseless. Be to [him/her] like a mother and father.
Oh Compassionate Ones, let not the force of your compassion be weak, but aid them.
Let [...] not go into the miserable states of existence.
Forget not your ancient vows.”
Reincarnation is a core tenet in the practice of Buddhism, and with highlighting the journey from one life to the next, this prayer can bring some peace to those who are praying for a loved one’s soul. Those who offer up this prayer ask the Buddha and all who have achieved enlightenment to guide them on.
Prayers for a Father’s Death Anniversary
On the anniversary of your father or stepfather’s death, you’re likely to return to some of the thoughts that accompanied you when he first passed away. Here are some prayers for processing these anniversary feelings.
9. Part of the Antim Ardas Ceremony from Sikhism
“Death is pre-ordained – no one who comes can remain here.” - SGGS Page 153, Line 15
One way that the Sikh religion considers loss is through the belief that death is natural and inevitable. As anniversaries come and the pain of loss grows less acute, recalling memories of one’s father or stepfather can become easier. The realization that they couldn’t remain forever may bring some healing and comfort.
10. “Yizkor” from Judaism
“May God remember the soul of my father, my teacher (mention his Hebrew name and that of his mother) who has gone to his [supernal] 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, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah, and with the other righteous men and women who are in Gan Eden; and let us say, Amen.”
“Yizkor” is a prayer of remembrance from the Jewish faith and is repeated often in the synagogue. This passage in particular helps to honor one’s father for many years after the loss and to help keep his memory alive.
11. Passages from the Qur’an for Condolences from Islam
“...and be patient. Indeed, Allah is with the patient." (Qur'an Surah Anfal; 8:46)
Many faith traditions opt, when words fail, to quote important truths from their holy texts to reassure each person of the future.
If you are the one grieving a father or step-father’s loss, this passage is a reminder that Allah accompanies those who await the future reunion with their parent with patience. It can also be a comforting phrase if a friend or family member is experiencing the anniversary of their father’s death.
12. “Prayer on the Anniversary of a Deceased Person” from Catholicism
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,
This simple prayer can be an option if you have a busy day on a later death anniversary, when you want to stay a moment in the memories of your father or stepfather. A visit to the gravesite might be more meaningful accompanied by this phrase.
Commemorating a Father or Step-Father in Prayer
Your love for a step-father or father can be hard to put into words, but the ways that many religions portray deities in a father-like way can sometimes help to give words to the inexpressible. Spending time in prayer allows our minds to focus on what we fear will hurt us, the grief, and realize that we can face it and accept it.
Love for a father or step-father can endure, living on in memory, and these prayers can help us commit to the goal of loving and being inspired by them forever, rather than feeling helpless in our grief. Whether planning a funeral or considering your own future, you’ll find resources that can help at Cake.
- “Jewish Prayers.” Center for Mission and Identity, Xavier University. xavier.edu/jesuitresource/online-resources/prayer-index/jewish-prayers
- “Prayers of Remembrance” Church of England Prayer and Worship. Church of England. churchofengland.org/prayer-and-worship/topical-prayers/prayers-remembrance
- “Antim Ardas Ceremony” Fremont Gurdwara Sahib. fremontgurdwara.org/antim-ardas-ceremony
- “Yizkor - the Memorial Prayer.” Chabad.org Chabad-Lubavitch Media Center. chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/371509/jewish/Yizkor-The-Memorial-Prayer.htm
- “Praying for Deceased Parents.” Dar al-Ifta Al Missriyyah. dar-alifta.org/Foreign/ViewFatwa.aspx?ID=8100
- “Prayers for Death and Dying.” United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers. usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/bereavement-and-funerals/prayers-for-death-and-dying.cfm
- “The Islamic Way of Expressing Condolence and Sympathy” Islamicity. HADI. islamicity.org/5278/the-islamic-way-of-expressing-condolence-and-sympathy/
- “Holy Souls Rosary.” Holy Souls Rosary. holysoulsrosary.org/#/english