Prayer for those who grieve at Thanksgiving

Image: Cynthia Pinckney Ministries

Click here for an updated version of this prayer 
and for Grace for Thanksgiving Day Dinner!

For many reasons, the holidays are a difficult time for many people.

For those who are grieving the loss of a loved one, Thanksgiving and Christmas (especially the "first" of each) can be particularly hard to experience. Nothing can make these moments easy but prayer can offer a path to walk through these days with greater peace and even opportunities for healing.

I'm posting this prayer a week before Thanksgiving because it might help to sit with it for a while, to pray it over several days.

Some might find it helpful to use a prayer like this as the blessing before Thanksgiving Day dinner. Others might find it helpful to pray it alone, or to share copies of it with other family members and friends.

The Lord was a man well acquainted with grief: no stranger was he to a broken heart. He is with us in our pain as surely as he is with those whom he has welcomed to his arms of peace.

In those same everlasting arms he gathers us this Thanksgiving...

Dear God,

There is an empty chair at our table,
an ache in our hearts
and tears on our faces.

We may try to shield one another
from the grief we bear
but we cannot hide it from you.

We pray for (names)
whose presence we miss 
in these homecoming days.

Open our eyes and our hearts
to the healing and warmth
of the light of your presence.

Assure us, Lord, that those we miss
have a place at your table
and a home in your heart
as well as in ours.

Open our hearts to joyful memories 
of the love we shared
with those who have gone before us.

Help us tell the stories
that make the past present
and bring us close to those we miss.

Teach us to lean on each other
and on you, Lord,
for the strength we need 
to walk through difficult times.

Give us quiet moments
with you, with our thoughts,
with our memories and prayers.

Be with us, Lord,
and hold us in your arms
even as you hold those whom we miss.

This is the day you have made, Lord:
help us to rejoice in it
and in the promise of your peace.


(Links to prayers and reflections for the month of November)

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  1. WOW...you are so incredibly gifted, you go right to the heart!!! A very happy and blessed Thanksgiving to you to. Be safe on your trip, you will be missed!

  2. Open our hearts to joy
    in the memories of the love
    we shared with (name/names).

    I find solice in remembering ...through telling stories.

  3. All good gifts come from the Lord: praise God! And there's also the gift of so many people who have shared their open hearts with me in difficult times...

  4. I sent this to my friend who lost her husband unexpectedly last Christmas.

    These are words we all need- no matter when have faced our losses.

    Have a good Thanksgiving.

  5. I shared this with my good friend who lost his father a few years ago... I never met his father, but through my friend's family I feel like I did...
    I went to his wake and funeral and I remember how hard it was (and I never even met him!)- it's amazing the connections you can make with people, in so many ways, on so many levels...

  6. And for those who find it difficult to open their hearts to share the sadness and pain that resides there, we pray that God will comfort them in their sorrow.

  7. And I pray that God will gently open their hearts that he might enter and comfort them in their sorrow...

  8. A great talk on coping with the holidays after you have lost someone you love is on www.carmonfuneralhome.com, click on the "archived video" link and the password is " coping ". The video runs for about 100 minutes....

  9. Thanks for the link - I will view the video but it requires calling the funeral home for a password and I think that's a step many of my readers might not take. However, knowing the source here leads me to tell you that it will be worth the call. (No, I have no connection with the funeral home on whose site this appears.)

  10. the password is "coping" .... no need to call the funeral home...

  11. I am a regular reader of this blog. I lost my mom on October 26th. I used much of this prayer as grace for the Thanksgiving dinner that I hosted for my family. I truly appreciate you sharing your gifts with us. In my sorrow, you are one of the many things I am grateful for. Thank you.

  12. Thank you Father, this was a Godsend today as we prepare for our first Thanksgiving missing the Matriarch of our family, our 92 years YOUNG Nana who died suddenly recently.

    She would have been 93 ON Thanksgiving and I hope our praying this prayer will help us all.

    I am grateful that Divine Providence sent me to your blog.

  13. JMJ: comments like yours confirm for me that what I try to offer here is worth the effort. It's a joy and a blessing for me to know that my prayer will be part of your Thanksgiving prayer.


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and PRAY before you think!