Praying For The Dead With Kids

Did you know that praying for the dead is a Spiritual Work of Mercy? I love that the Catholic church has so much beauty built into her Liturgical calendar that there is a season for everything. This way, we remember to do things we would otherwise forget.

praying for the faithful departed in the month of November

If you think you’ve “missed” praying for the dead this year if you’ve been busy with All Saints’ Day parties up until now, think again. The whole month of November is dedicated to the holy souls in Purgatory, and we are especially called to pray for the dead from November 1 through the 8- this is the octave of All Saints’ Day.

While there’s generally no way of knowing for sure if our loved ones are in Heaven, Hell, or Purgatory, we pray for them anyway. We are assuming that they are in Purgatory, but hoping they are in Heaven.

This year, I wanted to make sure we really remembered to pray for the dead during this octave of All Saints’ Day, so we added pictures of our friends and family that have passed on before us to our home altar, along with candles for each of them. I also got one plain white candle in glass from the Dollar Tree and added their names to it with a Sharpie marker.

praying for the dead

We lit a candle for each person, saying prayers as we went.

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I let the kids help light the candles.

teaching kids to pray for the dead

We sang a long litany of Saints from my prayer book. The kids really enjoyed singing it.

praying a litany of saints with kids

**Updated to Say** This book is called “Our Family Prayer Book” edited by Rev. Bernard F. McWilliams. I got it as a Confirmation present and I absolutely treasure it! There is a prayer for everything in this book. 

I truly cherish the Church and the way she lays the year before us, guiding us through everything in the proper season. My children were curious why there was a picture of Mark and I on the table since we are not dead. I explained to them that this is a picture that was taken when I was pregnant with a baby that we lost. Their sister. We named her Samantha Gianna. She was between Lydia and Julian.

all saints all souls day 1

I don’t talk about her much, because, well… it makes me really sad. In fact, I’d say most people in my “real life” don’t even know I’ve had a miscarriage. But the Church, in her infinite wisdom, has laid out a time, especially for me, to talk about her, pray, and remember her- along with all of our other loved ones.

praying for the dead in the month of november at home

Kimberlee recently shared a tradition they have in their family of praying the rosary at nearby cemeteries during the octave of All Saints’ Day. I think this would be a great tradition for when the kids get a bit older.

What traditions does your family have for praying for the dead? Share in the comments below.

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Comments

  1. This is a wonderful idea! Beautiful and simple.

    We went to the cemetery one year and made rubbings of the graves of our loved ones then hung them around the dining room with pictures to remember for the month.

    I especially love including babies who have gone to heaven. I think it will help my kids remember that our lost little ones are among their grandparents and well looked-after.

  2. Wonderful idea! Tha k you for sharing. May I ask where you found your prayer book?

  3. Nadine Fernandez says

    Such beautiful ideas! Thanks for sharing. We start praying for the dead on Halloween in the tradition when children/families would travel house to house dresses as Saints and pray for the dead at each door and in exchange receive a “soul cake” to help prepare in celebrating the great feast the next day. In our culture it is now “candy”. We go house to house wishing a “Happy Halloween” and explaining that it’s a Catholic tradition to pray for the dead on Halloween, and is there anyone in their family who has passed away that we can pray for (…in exchange for the candy). We say the “Eternal rest …” prayer all together. We have had some elderly neighbors “tear-up” as they recall this tradition, and others so grateful to be reached out to as they had recently had a tragic experience (brother or daughter that had just passed away in an accident) and were still healing. There are those that are estranged to prayer- or afraid, and can’t think of anyone. In this case we say a prayer for them. 🙂 In previous years, we passed out miraculous medals- but any way you do it, it has been such a beautiful way to connect this universal family on earth in remembering our loved ones in this our temporary home…and prepare to feast in honoring the glorified! God love you!

  4. Beautiful post Lacy! I’m sorry for the loss of your precious child. How wonderful that you and your children can pray for her soul and all your departed loved ones!

  5. Thank you for the touching post. We too lost a baby, our very first one, and we just this year shared it with our three other children on All Souls Day. I am inspired by your ideas and would really like to do something similar in our home. Thanks again.

  6. This is the first year that I really realized we need to be praying for the souls in Purgatory! I never really knew it before… (Oh, how much there is to learn about our beautiful faith!) But now that I am aware of the need, we are adding in some extra prayers for our family members who have died. I love the idea of singing a litany of the saints with the kids– maybe we’ll try to do that this week as well! Thank you for the post!

  7. I’ve just started tuning in to your blog, as I was searching for ideas for observing Lent with a toddler. As I was perusing tonight, I scrolled past this picture, then took another look. I see a picture of Greg Alia. I am in Columbia, South Carolina. He is a friend of friends, and our community has been deeply moved and inspired in the wake of his death. Thank you for sharing this beautiful, and painful, part of your life with us.

    • I was friends with Greg in college- I met him at Newman Club. And given that my husband and dad are both cops, it was very upsetting what happened to him. We will never forget him when praying for our dead! 🙁

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