ETERNAL GOD of the spirits of all flesh, You are close to the hearts of the sorrowing, to strengthen and console them with the warmth of Your love, and with the assurance that the human spirit is enduring and indestructible. Even as we pray for perfect peace for those whose lives have ended, so do we ask You to give comfort and courage to the living. May the knowledge of Your nearness give us strength, O God, for You are with us at all times: in joy and sorrow, in light and darkness, in life and also in death.

AS IN THE WORLD around us, so too in human life, darkness is followed by light, and sorrow, we pray, by comfort. Life and death are twins; grief and hope walk hand in hand. Although we cannot know what lies beyond the body’s death, let us put our trust in the undying Spirit who calls us into life and who abides to all eternity.

Remember that the companionship of time is but of short duration. It flies more quickly than the shades of evening. We are like a child that grasps in their hand a sunbeam. Immediately they open it again, but, to their amazement, find it empty, and the brightness gone.

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But what is a person? Are they simply skin, flesh, blood, veins, nerves, muscle and tissue? No! That which constitutes the essence of a person is their soul, the rest being only the garments that cover their inner essence. When we depart this earth, we leave behind our outer coverings, but our soul, which is immortal, continues to live.

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We think of those who have gone before us and journeyed from us into the everlasting life from which they came. If time has dulled our pain, it has not erased their memory. We have experienced suffering, we have seen death, and we seek God’s presence in them.
We turn to You, almighty God, merciful One, and ask You to bind us together with our loved ones into the gathering of life. In prayer we glimpse a world beyond our understanding. In You all creatures find their home and rest. Through You our troubles are stilled and our longing soul is satisfied. O life of all worlds, with You may we meet life.

Readings from ‘Mishkan T'filah, World Union Edition', CCAR, and 'Forms of Prayer: Days of Awe’, Reform Movement, UK, adapted.