You may feel the need for comforting words before or after a loved one dies. We don’t presume to be able to tell anyone what to say. If a dying person requests comforting words or prayers to be said from their tradition, or if you need some guidance about what one might say at this difficult time, here are a few examples to draw from.

Saying “Thank you” and “Good-bye” – Helen Meier, Hope Hospice, Dublin, CA

________(person’s name) thank you for all you have given me, your family, friends, and the world. You have impacted my life with your love, your caring and your wisdom. Now that you are gone, I will carry all your love and everything I learned from you within me. The essence of who you were as a person will live within me and within others. You will continue to give to the world as we pass on to others what we learned from you. I will miss you, but will have joy in remembering all you meant to me. Each thing you touched will bring you to mind. Your laugh, your smile, your words will resound in my mind and heart. Good-bye dear one.

Christian – John 14:1-3

Let not your hearts be troubled: believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

Jewish – Jewis Midrash, Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7:1 (4)

We rejoice over a birth and mourn over a death. But we should not. For when a man is born, who knows what he will do or how he will end? But when a man dies, we may rejoice-if left a good name and this world in peace.

Buddhist

Light without equal, so pure;
Beauty without peer, so serene;
We desire to be reborn with you.
Power without limits, so strong;
Glory without end, so majestic;
We desire to be reborn with you.

Muslim-Al-Ghazali – Muslim medieval mystic

Know, beloved that we cannot understand the future world until we know what death is; and we cannot know what death is until we know what life is; nor can we understand what life is until we know what the spirit is—the seat of the knowledge of God.

Native American – Traditional Navajo Prayer

As I walk,
The universe is walking with me
In beauty it walks before me
In beauty it walks behind me
In beauty it walks below me
In beauty it walks above me
Beauty is on every side
As I walk, I walk with beauty

Hindu – Chandogya Upanishad

Never fear that old age will invade that city; never fear that this inner treasure of all reality will wither and decay. This knows no age when the body ages; this knows no dying when the body dies. This is the real city of Brahman; this is the Self, free from old age, from death and grief, hunger and thirst. In the Self all desires are fulfilled.

Sufi-Hafiz – Beloved Poet of Persia

The God Who Only Knows Four Words
Every child has known God,
Not the God of names,
Not the God of don’ts
Not the God who ever does anything weird,
But the God who only knows four words and keeps repeating them, saying:
“Come dance with Me.”
Come
Dance.

Pagan – Elements Hymn-Abby Willowroot

At one with the Universe
My spirit is free
All creation pulses in me
Floating upon the wind
Sparking with the energy of fire
Flowing with the waters
Dancing the rhythms of Earth
Spinning and Spiraling
into Elemental re-birth
The magic of being renews
Floating upon the wind
Sparking with the energy of fire
Flowing with the waters
Dancing the rhythms of Earth
Between the Moon and Sun

Prayers

Prayer – Mary Elizabeth Frye – 1932

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry.
I am not there. I did not die.

Christian-Saint Francis’s Prayer

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal life.
Amen

Catholic Prayer for the Dying

God of all Creation,
Be with us now
and at the hour of our death.
Shelter us from harms’ way
and lead us on the path to eternal life.
Receive our life, all that we are,
and everything we do.
May the Angel of Mercy stay near us
this day and always.
Amen

Jewish Prayer

Jews have always relied on Tehillim (Psalms) in times of trouble. For example, when a relative is sick, people often recite psalms for their welfare. Psalms can be found in any bible. Some psalms that are particularly appropriate at this time include Psalm 20, 23, 79, 91 and 123. Kaddish is the tradition of reciting prayer during the first eleven months following the death of a loved one by prescribed mourners, and on each anniversary of the death.

An English Translation of the Mourner’s Kaddish

Glorified and sanctified be God’s great name throughout the world which He has created according to His will. May He establish His kingdom in your lifetime and during your days, and within the life of the entire House of Israel, speedily and soon; and say, Amen.
May His great name be blessed forever and to all eternity. Blessed and praised, glorified and exalted, extolled and honored, adored and lauded be the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, beyond all the blessings and hymns, praises and consolations that are ever spoken in the world; and say, Amen.

Buddhist Prayer – Baser Zen Buddhist-1327-1387

Your essence was not born and will not die. It is neither being nor nonbeing. It is not a void nor does have form. It experiences neither pleasure nor pain. If you ponder what it is in you that feels the pain of this sickness, and beyond that you do not think or desire to ask anything, and if your mind dissolves like vapor in the sky, then the path to rebirth is blocked and the moment of instant release has come.

Sayings of the Buddha

I am of the nature to grow old.
There is no way to escape growing old.
I am of the nature to have ill-health.
There is no way to escape having ill-health.
I am of the nature to die.
There is no way to escape death.
All that is dear to me and everyone I love
are of the nature to change.
There is no way to escape being separated from them.
My actions are my only true belongings.
I cannot escape the consequences of my actions.
My actions are the ground on which I stand.

Readings

Kahlil Gibran – 1883-1931

If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life. For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.

Al-Ghazali-Muslim Medieval Mystic – 1058-1111

Know, beloved that we cannot understand the future world until we know what death is; and we cannot know what death is until we know what life is; nor can we understand what life is until we know what the spirit is-the seat of the knowledge of God.

Fyodor Dostoevsky – 1821-1881

Love all creation, both the whole and every grain of sand. Love every leaf, every ray of light. Love the animals, love the plants, love each separate thing. If you love each thing you will pierce the mystery of life, and when you perceive this, you will from then on grow every day to a fuller understanding of it, until you come at last to love the whole world with a love that then be all-embracing and eternal.

We Remember Them – Author Unknown

We remember them-at the rising of the sun and at its going down, we remember them.
At the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter, we remember them.
At the opening of buds and in the rebirth of spring, we remember them.
At the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of summer, we remember them.
At the rustling of leaves and the beauty of autumn, we remember them.
At the beginning of the year and whe it ends, we remember them.
As long as we live, they too will live;
For they are now a part of us, as we remember them.
When we are weary and in need of strength, we remember them.
When we are lost and sick at heart, we remember them.
When we have joys we yearn to share, we remember them.
When we have decisions that are difficult to make, we remember them.
When we have achievements that are based on theirs, we remember them.
As long as we live, they too shall live,
for they are a part of us, as we remember them.

Source:

Ladinsky, D. (1999). The Gift – Poems By Hafiz The Great Sufi Master. New York: Penguin Compass.

Marty Hogan, L. A.-S. (2007). Sacred Vigil: Tools to comfort and support the dying person and their caregiver through the vigil process. Ashland, Oregon : Sacred Vigil Press.

Willowroot, A. (1999). Goddess Prayers and Invocations: Pagan Prayers and Blessings. Retrieved March 2012, from Spiral Goddess: spiralgoddess.com