Friday, January 20, 2012

Bereavement Prayers

Throughout history, and the time before history as we know her, people from cultures across Gaia, walking their various spiritual Paths, have always spoken with Goddess and the Ancient Ones of their respective beliefs. There are times that words "get in the way", if you will... And other times that we just simply don't know what to say. Times of grief and bereavement are two of those most precious and tender times. Perhaps that's what makes it so much more difficult. And yet, we long to find comfort in one another, in our beliefs, in Goddess, in the Ancient Ones.

I am a Death Midwife (more on the meaning of that in a few weeks, when we're upon the letter "D"). As such, I have been privileged to serve others as they are birthed from this mortal plane into the OtherWorldly Beyond. One of the great honors while doing so is to offer up prayers over the one who is Transitioning, to bless them on their Way. In a time when it seems no words are ever the "right ones", be it the death of a beloved animal companion, family member, loved one, or perfect stranger, speaking directly to Goddess and the Ancient Ones somehow always carries us to Her arms of solace and love.

As such, I give you some of the prayers I have offered in times of grief and bereavement. The first several are prayers I offered up during the time of my mother's recent passing. Below those, you will find a prayer I wrote for the death of a beloved animal companion. Naturally, you will want to put your loved one's name within the brackets as shown below. It is my deepest hope that these prayers - even a line or two to offer to someone who is filled with grief - grant you comfort for yourselves and for those with whom you grieve in your hours of need.

Bedside Prayer for One Who is Departing ~ written by Rowan Galahadria MistWalker

The black mantle of She Who Stirs the Cauldron
Is upon my beloved [mother].
The white light of the Shining Ones
Calls to my beloved [mother's] Spirit.

A perfect calm is upon sea and land,
Peace is upon the moor and meadow.
The blessing of the One Who is Three is upon my beloved [mother],
I sain Brighid's cross over her head, her breasts, her belly, her hands and feet.

Day of your ever-lasting peace and reunion with Ancestors gone Before you,
The bright and shining day of your death,
Goddess take you to Her breast and hold you in Her arms.
I pray She bid you welcome to the Realm of the OtherWorld.

Blessed Be, and blessed be what shall come of it. **********************

To "Sain", as in the second stanza, is to "make the sign of". It is a symbol of blessing. Yes, this prayer was choked out through tears! But I meant every word. Sometimes, those who linger are simply waiting for our "blessing" - our "okay" to go ahead and Go. This is never easy... And yet, how can we withhold our blessing upon a dying person's last wish - to be blessed as they Journey? And so it was that I wrote the above prayer with many, many tears and spoke it less than gracefully, though I did so with a heart full of Love and Trust in my mother's timing - in Goddess' timing.

Some may wonder what the last line of this prayer means, beyond the "Blessed Be"... Change is inevitable, and Death is one of the greatest "Bringers of Change". With the parting of our dear one from their mortal body, we begin to learn new lessons - often, whether we want to or not. The line, "and blessed be what shall come of it" asks Goddess to bless our Paths as we learn how to walk in the new reality that lies before us, to accept the lessons with compassion for ourselves and others in the time of adjustment. It reminds us to be gentle with ourselves and those around us who are also grieving.

A Blessing to Carry On ~ by Rowan G. MistWalker

Now shall I bathe my face
In the nine rays of the sun,
As my beloved [mother's] face is bathed
in the luminous light of the OtherWorld.

Now shall I lift my head
To walk the road that rises to meet me
As my beloved [mother's] head is lifted
By our ancestors who have gone before her.

May I find peace
In the arms of Goddess
As [mom] has found peace
In the Great Beyond.

May I find succor and the steadying Presence
of She of 10,000 names
As [mom] has found succor and the blessed Presence
of the Shining Ones in the OtherWorld.

So mote it be.  *****************************

A Blessing for the Bereaved ~ by Rowan G. MistWalker

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.
Deep peace of the infinite Peace to you.

~ Adapted from ancient Gaelic runes by Rowan Galahadria MistWalker

And another:

A Blessing for those who are Grieving ~ by Rowan Galahadria MistWalker

The Goddess, Brighid, touching the brow and heart
Spake this beannacht (blessing) of healing:
"Deep peace I breathe into you,
O weariness, here,
O ache, here!

"Deep peace, a soft, white dove to you,
Deep peace, a gentle, quiet rain to you,
Deep peace, a tree of great size to you,
Deep peace, a crackling fire in your hearth.

"Peace that is deep, breathe into you,
From a gentle breath of the east to you,
From a warm wind of the south to you,
From a sea breeze of the west to you,
From a cool and soothing mistral of the north to you.

"Peace of silver moon,
Peace of golden sun,
Peace of flocks of stars,
Peace of Earth,

"Deepest peace steadfastly support you as the green of the fields.
Deepest peace fall upon you as the sparkling dew falls,
Deepest peace light your way as the flame of a candle,
Deepest peace of the surety of the dawning of a new day,

"Deep peace draw up around you as My mantle spread,
Deep peace, wrap you in a warm embrace as My twining hair,
Deep peace fill your Being with safety as My long spear,
Peace in heart,
Peace in mind,
Peace in Spirit."  Blessed be.  ******************************

And, finally, I leave you with this prayer I wrote for the death of a beloved animal companion:

Prayer for the Death of a Beloved Animal Companion (this example for a feline)
~ written by Rowan G. MistWalker

Open the Way, Artemis, for this One to travel.
The Way is open.
Be his/her Guide, even unto the Gates of Bast's Fields,
Which You have traversed in the Before-Time.

May his/her Road be clear, Artemis, for this one to Journey.
The Road is clear.
May the Shining Ones welcome him/her
As They part the Mists to welcome and embrace this Transformed One.

May he/she find our other Beloved Companions who have gone before,
That they may play in the fields of catnip and bask in warmth together.
May he/she flourish greatly in the Land Beyond.
He/She will flourish.

May the emptiness within [kitty's humans] be transformed, Artemis.
The emptiness will be transformed.
Let [kitty's humans] memories become invocations of Joy,
That they may know peace and boundless love again...
They shall know peace and boundless love again.

Blessed Be.  ************************


  1. Absolutely beautiful post! I love each prayer... made me cry, but each is wonderful. I look forward to reading more about a Death Midwife; it sounds very interesting. What a blessing to have such gift and calling!

    1. Thank you! It is a blessing - and, as with most gifts - it sometimes gives a bit of a stinging bite. I appreciate you having left a comment. It's a gift to we who write, as I'm certain you know! I'm off to find your post now!

  2. Beautiful. I've been feeling a calling recently to do the work of a death midwife. Your prayers brought tears to my eyes, and in reading them, I felt that pull even stronger. Thank you.

    1. Outstanding, Michele! The work is not without challenge, but it is SO deeply rewarding. I was so blessed and honoured to have served as Death Midwife to my Mum - She was a Death Midwife before me, and her mother before me.

      I will be writing about Death Midwifery on the first of our two "D" weeks. Hopefully, we can talk more - I'm always happy to answer any questions, too!


  3. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. I recently lost my mother, and after reading these prayers I am finally feeling some sense of balance in my life again. I am feeling relief. Blessings to you.

  4. Ah, Patricia... My heart to you. My Mum passed on September 30th. I tell you now, I so very often go back to these prayers to comfort myself - they are soothing as a blanket. If you ever wish to share some of the load of heartache, please, know that you can write me and I will definitely write you back. (RowanGMW.keeper at gmail dot com)

    I'm so very glad the prayers were restorative to your Spirit. Take them as a salve during those rough times.

    May you rest in the arms of Goddess,

  5. This is a fantastic post. Blessings on you for the work you do!

    1. Thank you so much, Yeshe. It does, without doubt, bless me deeply.

      ~ Rowan

  6. Beautiful blessings. My mom's best friend of over 25 years passed away 6 days ago (I posted an entry about it Thursday). These blessings made me cry. Thank you so much for sharing. I will use them now and in the future.

    1. Oh Astraea,

      I'm so glad to read these were a bit of a healing balm. May Goddess continue to bless and heal you and yours.

      ~ Rowan

  7. Thank you for sharing this with us. I have been looking for similar posts and there just isn't a lot of it around. I'm very curious to learn more about your role as a death midwife, so I'll be on the look out for your D post :).

    1. Greetings, L,

      There are some devotionals and Book of Hours that have a small section - 2 or 3 blessings, sainings, or prayers for the dying, the bereaved, or to speak just as one passes from this mortal realm into the next - but you are right... There are not many places that I have come across that have more prayers and blessings for those who are Death Midwives and/or Pagan clergy. I'm hoping to change that. It's actually the reason I contacted Caitlín Matthews last summer. Blogging is, apparently in this day and age, the best way to disseminate information - and so, here I am.

      This is near and dear to my heart. Keep an eye turned here and you'll soon have many more prayers, blessings, and more about the work and Path of a Death Midwife.

      Many blessings,