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Graveside Prayers to Bring Peace in Times of Grief

Tom May
man praying at graveside

Graveside prayers, along with the reading of appropriate scriptures, can be a source of comfort and hope for grieving family members and friends. A service at the graveside or mausoleum provides a formal ceremony at the time the body is ready for burial. Here are some tips for pairing meaningful graveside service scriptures with well-worded graveside prayers.

Graveside Prayers Converse With God and Connect With Man

Praying in public creates an unusual dilemma for many believers. Realizing the words of a prayer are a personal conversation with God, prayers in a public setting are also meant to guide the thoughts of others, invoking emotions of comfort and peace. Each word in a prayer is so important to some faith traditions, books of blessed prayers are approved for use in certain situations. Most prayers are a part of a complete liturgy.

Roman Catholic Graveside Prayers

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, "The Christian meaning of death is revealed in the light of the Paschal Mystery of the Death and Resurrection of Christ in whom resides our only hope. The Christian who dies in Christ Jesus is 'away from the body and at home with the Lord' (2 Cor 5:8)." The Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be are acceptable, but the following prayers may be recited, alternating with Scripture and times of silence.

Praying for the Dead

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 [name of deceased] 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. Amen.

Praying for Those Mourning the Death of a Child

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. Amen.

Praying for the Mourners

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. Amen.

Anglican Graveside Prayers

The Anglican Book of Common Prayer has influenced the liturgy of many English-speaking Protestant churches. The first edition of the book was prepared in part by Thomas Cranmer, then archbishop of Canterbury, in 1549. The Episcopal Church in the United States, a member of the worldwide Anglican Communion, organized after the American Revolution as its members separated from England. Here are two approved prayers appropriate for use at a graveside service.

Mourning young woman at graveside

For the Burial of an Adult

O God, who by the glorious resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light; Grant that your servant [name of deceased] to your never-failing care and love, and bring us all to your heavenly kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

For the Burial of a Child

O God, whose beloved Son took children into his arms and blessed them: Give us grace to entrust [name of deceased] to your never-failing care and love, and bring us all to your heavenly kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Lutheran Graveside Prayers

The Lutheran Book of Prayer has provided guidance and assurance for many generations of Christians. The Lutheran denomination consists of many synods, many having their own approved catechisms. Check with the individual church for specific recommendations. These prayers represent the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).

For the Burial of Either an Adult or Child

Almighty God, we entrust all who are dear to us to your never-failing care and love, for this life and the life to come, knowing that you are doing for them better things than we can desire or pray for; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Personal Moments in a Pubic Prayer

The following structure provides the acknowledgement of the authority of tradition and scripture alongside the personal expressions of the emotions of grief and hope. A prayer offered when Psalm 23 is used for a scripture reading follows, constructed with these essential facets.

  • Addressing God using a description of His majesty and faithfulness
  • Allusion to a word or phrase from the scripture
  • Confession of the uncertainty of circumstances and the emotion of grief
  • An expectation of hope for the future
  • A confession of reliance upon the grace of God through His Son Jesus

Example of a Personalized Graveside Prayer

Eternal Father and Lord of both heaven and earth; The uncertainty of life and the stark nature of death leave us as sheep without a shepherd. Lead and comfort us as we wander through the valley of the shadow of death. Provide for us a pasture that is green, a pathway that is straight, and bright hope for our tomorrow through the promise of the resurrection that you demonstrated for us by your Son Jesus Christ, In whose precious name we pray, Amen.

Graveside Service Scriptures

The Bible contains verses that touch every stage of life. The use of certain scriptures at a Christian wedding or a Christian baptism continues tradition and breeds comfort and assurance. When attending a Christian funeral, grieving listeners expect the use of familiar scripture verses.

  • Psalm 23 - "The Lord is my Shepherd"
  • Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 - "For Everything, There is a Season"
  • Revelation 21:1-7 - "New Heaven and New Earth"
  • John 14:1-3 - "Let not Your Hearts be Troubled"
  • Genesis 2:7, Genesis 3:19, Ecclesiastes 3:20 - "You are from Dust, and to Dust You will Return"

Connect Graveside Prayers With Scripture

The time of mourning the loss of a loved one leaves many confused and in a state of shock. Using phrases from the scripture used will add authority to the words of the prayer. The familiar traditions will serve later as a mnemonic device for the grieved, allowing them to recall meaningful words and feelings from the day.

Strength and Comfort Through Graveside Prayers

Thoughtfully worded graveside prayers rely on the hope found in the Bible, alongside the traditions of the church to comfort, assure and strengthen the bereaved during the time of their loss. The prayers express the reality of feelings to God while resting in the expectation one day seeing the loved one again.

Graveside Prayers to Bring Peace in Times of Grief