A Prayer for Grief in this Holiday Season

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This is a prayer for those who are in mourning, who grieve during this Advent and Christmas season. Creating space to feel and name pain is a God-given practice that we need.   The grief you have might come and go.  It might be an old pain that you are used to carrying  or it might be a new grief.   It always helps to acknowledge it. It always helps to not have to carry it alone.  

This prayer is a place to put the pain and to honor the love and longing that it represents. 

Grief can come from many sources – the death of loved ones, a breaking of relationships. There can be grief over lost jobs, lost opportunities, dreams that get broken or just seem to slip away.   The grief of unjust systems, unloving ways we are a society, tears in our social fabric made bigger this year.  It can be the grief of untenable situations being exacerbated by covid.  The grief of not being able to meet with our beloved friends and family and chosen family when we need it most.    

The grief that comes when our certainty is dismantled.   

This grief is not imaginary.  And we do well to remember that grief does it go away or heal  just because we ignore it.  

So in the spirit of knowing that healing comes with honesty, here is an honest prayer of grief, of lament, of mourning this year.  

Trust this – you are not alone in this grief.  You are accompanied in these shadowlands. As you pray this prayer,  let that presence come into your awareness this season, in the deepest dark, you are not alone.

Good Creator,

We have entered this season carrying an ache.   

And we will carry it, uncovered, to you, Good Father.

You created our hearts for unbroken fellowship, to be rooted in this world and bound to one another through love. 

And yet, for so many reasons, our connections will get interrupted, broken, or are incomplete.   And it hurts.  

We find ourselves heading into a season where our grief can get masked by the needs of others, celebrations, by the to-do lists.  Where our grief can be overlooked by others in their hurry and haste.  Where we are told to sing Joy to the World – we may even long to sing – and yet grief still has things to say too.  

In this season, we bring into even this small light, the people or the things whose loss we are grieving.   

(Take a minute to name those you miss,  what your grieving.  hold their picture in your mind.)

It is good and right to miss them.  It is good and right to have loved in this way, that their absence is a physical hurt in our bodies.   

It is good and right to miss deeply those we love but can not be physically present to this season.

Help us to hold onto our memories. Help us to care for them – not becoming trapped by our memories but letting them bear us, accompany us, light us  into our new times.  


Grant us the courage to love generously even in this time of absence.  

Grant us courage to shrink neither from the aches nor the joys for both can bring about good fruit, by your spirit.  

Grant us the courage to  praise you, Creator, alongside expressing our grief, knowing that these sorrows will not be the end of the story – but that grace and welcome are. 

Use this sadness to carve out a bigger space inside us a space that can be filled with good things.  Create new spaces of imagination about how we might live in love, even while we grieve  our own loss. 


We trust our grief to your keeping, good shepherd.  It is real and honest and hard to hold by ourselves.  Please hold it with us.  

Show us where you are helping us hold this grief – turn our faces towards you gently. 

Open our eyes to the ways we are not alone.    

Help us to let others hold our grief with us. And help all of us to hold the grief of others in an honoring, holy way.   Not trying to fix it, but witnessing to the love that is true there.  


O Come, O Come Emmanuel

It is a lonely exile here.  

O Come, thou Day-spring, Come

Our hearts do wait for your advent here.

We trust that you see the severed connections and the broken hearts and in this season, the ways we cannot even be comforted by the regular gatherings and goodness Christmas could offer.  

And so we are left to remember the ways you have met us before..  Bring to our minds how you have been present to us throughout  our lives.   Help to see where these things might be true for us in this time too.  

(Silence is kept to remember where God has shown up in the past)

(Light a candle)

In this clarifying time, in this shadowland time, 

we say this:

That you came to us as a Lantern in the darkness,

Now illumine our way through.

You came as a song in the midst of our sorrow,

Now let loose our tongues to sing.

You came to us as a place to shelter in violent storms,

Now grant us peace.

You came to us as welcome when the shame seemed so loud,

Now be our joy.

You came as a child  to a hidden place, in the midnight of our despair, declaring  that you would be with us,

Now be with us. 

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

To this year of tension, loss and the constant reconfiguring of expectations, Come.

Come to where you’ve said you would be – right in the middle with us.  

As we enter this Christmas, we say, 

Be with us now and give us peace. 

Unfold in us your with-ness, 

new-ness and 

tender-ness we pray.


(Keep your candle lit for a period of time after this prayer – maybe the rest of the day – to remind you when you see it, of your honest prayer and that you are not alone.)


I took some cues and encorporated a bit of the language from A Liturgy for Missing Someone in Every Moment Holy by Douglas McKelvie but wanted to add some elements to reflect covid and the anti racism griefs that we felt this year too and plant the prayer in the advent season. That book is truly a gift – I highly recommend it.


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