Unitarianism Prayers for Death and Bereavement

Updated 5th April 2016



Unitarianism Prayers for Death



Sumbitted by Derek McAuley Chief Officer General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches






Advisor on Unitarianism to Faith and Fire.

No Easy thing



For the funeral of a young man



by Rev Cliff Reed (Former Minister of Ipswich Unitarian Meeting House)

It is no easy thing to celebrate a life When all we feel is emptiness. It is no easy thing to be grateful when all we feel is bitterness and anger at the injustice of it all. It is no easy thing to be joyful when our hearts are overwhelmed with grief.

But let’s remember his face, Let’s remember his smile, his laugh, his love, his friendship. Let’s think what he would want us to do. So although our hearts are broken and our tears flow, let’s go deeper – to the founts of love, finding there the strength to give thanks that he was part of our lives, and always will be.





From Sacred Earth: Words for Prayer and Reflection. by Rev Cliff Reed [Former Minister of Ipswich Unitarian Meeting House]. London, The Lindsey Press, 2010. (ISBN 978-0-85319-079-0)



by Rev Dr Linda Hart

Spirit of Love and of Life, we gather here this day to remember, to remember those who have touched our lives by their living and their dying.

Blessed be their lives, and our memories of them.

We stand in the presence of a mystery, that life is, that we know the pleasures of family and friends, that we can celebrate the gentle joys of community and companionship. That we have breath is a mystery, that we live is itself a mystery.

In the presence of these memories, these spirits who still touch our lives, let us open our hearts in thanksgiving. Thankful for their presence in our lives, thankful for the blessing of time that was ours to share with these friends, loved ones, partners, companions. Let us open our hearts

with gratitude for all they have given to us, and let that gratitude spill over the loss that we feel, let it fill that which is left empty within us. Gratitude for all the gifts, living on here in these tokens, in our hearts, in our lives.

Open your heart in thanksgiving for those who still grace your life. Our time is too short to be taken with petty disagreements, and angry divisions. Our time is too short to hold our love within. Open to those around you, for the treasures that they may yield in your life. Open to those around you for the treasures they may find within you, that precious and wondrous spark of life that you embody.

The world is more mystery than not, and we are ever in the presence of gifts beyond measure. In the quiet of our time, may we reach to touch that treasure, that giftedness, and may we return to our lives with a new sense of kindness and care, of gentle love and compassion for those who fill our lives.







by Andrew Usher

As we leave this place, we shall extinguish the chalice flame, and bid farewell to (Name)’s physical body; but we carry her/his spirit in our hearts. May it continue to shine through us, now and always.

And so, let us pause together, in the fellowship of quietness, as we allow the wishes of our hearts to make themselves felt.

Let us pray.

We gather today in sadness before the veil which has fallen between us and (Name) whom we loved. We bare our grief before that which we hold most holy, and pray for the strength to endure our pain.

We remember with gratitude the blessings which (Name) brought to our lives through her/his love, and we pray for the ability to share those blessings with others.

We think of those most keenly touched by this loss, and we pray that they may find consolation in all that (Name)’s life has meant to them and to others.

We remember particularly those close to (Name) who cannot be here today, especially …(as appropriate)… . May they find comfort in the knowledge that we remember them.

May the words and feelings and remembrances we share in these quiet moments strengthen us in our sympathy and support for one another and renew our dedication to the underlying and eternal realities of kindness and love which give our lives meaning and worth.


Partly adapted from words in Celebrating Life: A book of special services for use in the Unitarian and Free Christian tradition. Edited by Andrew M Hill. [A collection of services for special occasions including birth, marriage, death and blessings of same-sex unions. Awarded an Institute of Social Inventions Award in 1993.] London, The Lindsey Press, 1995, reprinted 1999. (ISBN 0-85319-041-0)