Catholic response to a death in the family?


My Protestant grandma passed away this morning. I’ve been Catholic since 2012 but there are still traditions that I’m unfamiliar with, and I’m not sure what I personally am supposed to do after the death of a family member. Are there particular prayers I’m supposed to pray? Do I fast? When, and for how long? I’ve read that I ought to have masses said for her on the 3rd, 7th, and 300th days following her death, but that I don’t start counting the days until the day after her death, so that the first of these masses would be said on Thursday. Is that right?

Any guidance you could give on these matters is appreciated.


Do not focus too much on numbers (how many prayers, how many days). Pray for the person’s soul as you’re moved to. The basic is:

V. Eternal rest grant unto N. O Lord.
R. And let perpetual light shine upon him/her.
V. May he/she rest in peace.
R. Amen.
V. May his/her soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
R. Amen.

Now if you’re looking for some customs, some cultures hold a novena of 9 days of prayer. You can follow this custom, while keeping in mind that it is not a requirement. You can offer your daily Rosary for that person, and end with the prayer I gave above.

And don’t worry about what needs to be offered on what day. All of those things have cultural or customary background, none of which are requirements by the Church itself. Under no circumstances should you feel forced into some kind of routine as if it were a requirement. All the Church asks if you is to pray for the souls of the dead, which is a spiritual act of mercy. Offering a Mass or Masses for the soul is an extremely praiseworthy thing, and you are strongly encouraged to do it. Offer one, two, ten, forty, whatever you can, whenever. Don’t worry about the 7th, 9th, 40th, 300’s. Don’t let numbers bother you. Just pray for the dead.

May your grandmother rest in peace.


There is no particular days, just, pray for the repose of her soul. Have Masses said. There is no specific date or number of days, I often have Masses said on deceased relatives’ birthday because it is easy for me to remember.

Call your parish office and ask for the next available Mass.


I’m sorry for your loss. My own grandmother died seven years ago, so I can imagine what you may be feeling right now.

Everything you mention are fine practices, but none are required. Do what you feel moved to do, as frequently as you feel moved to doing it.

I recommend that you pray for the repose of your grandmother’s soul. This intention can be applied to any prayer you wish. It is a good idea to have Masses offered for her, but how many and how often is up to you.

Pray for your family members as well, that the Lord may comfort them, and you, in your moment of grief.

Support your family in this delicate time.

Remembering you, your grandmother and your family in my own prayers. God bless.


You don’t need to do any of these things. Be there for your family, grieve together, go to her funeral if you can. Pray some prayers if you want to, such as the rosary, or any prayer really.

I’ve never heard of such a thing.

You can certainly have mass intentions said for your grandmother. Contact your local parish office or your pastor ask the procedure. in our parish, you fill out a slip of paper with your intention, any date you’d like to request (some parishes don’t allow this as it’s first come-first serve, and many have masses booked out in advance), and how many masses you’d like said.

The custom in our area is to give a $10 offering for each mass, but that is entirely up to you. The priest says the mass intention whether he receives $0, $5, $10 or more.


I’m sorry for your loss. I also had a Protestant grandma who I loved as a child and who passed away.

Some countries have cultural customs for how many days you pray after a death, etc. These are cultural however, and not required or taught by the Church. So you do not have to worry about days as the other person said.

It would be nice if you prayed for your grandma’s soul in case she is in Purgatory. Since she was Protestant and there may be other family members who are Protestant and do not agree with Catholic teaching on Purgatory, you may want to do this quietly so as not to give offense.

You can pray any prayer you like for your grandma’s soul. Many people will have a Mass said for the person who died, by going down to their parish and asking to sign up for a Mass and it’s customary to also make a small donation (sometimes they try to have the Mass said on a particular date like the person’s birthday, but that’s not always possible so others just take whatever date they can) . You can also just go to Mass yourself and offer your Mass and Holy Communion privately to God for your Grandma’s soul.

People also often say the Divine Mercy Chaplet and the Rosary for persons who have died.
I have also gone to Adoration and prayed for souls there.

You can also look into getting a plenary indulgence for your grandma’s soul, or having Gregorian Masses (series of 30 Masses) said for her soul, but both of these are a bit more complicated so you may wish to start with the things I already listed above.

If you are looking for some appropriate prayers for the deceased and for yourself and your family, there are some at USCCB website that I use:


This, and have a Mass said for her (your parish priest will do this for you). In the UK a typical donation for this is about £10 (although you can usually donate as little or as much as you wish to).

Or have a novena (9) of Masses or a Gregorian said for her, but you will probably need to contact a society of priests that do this.


Call you Church office or even better go by and have a Mass or Masses offered for your Grandmother’s soul. It is the very best thing to do. Masses may be $5 or 10 in most places. You can have just 1 said a year or do 1 a month for a year or whatever you want.


You should have a Mass said for your grandma. The faithful on earth can offer prayers and sacrifices to help the departed souls undergoing purification, and no better prayer could be offered than that of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.


I was unaware that the Mass could be purchased.


Cajun Joy clearly means that the suggested donation for Mass is 5 or 10 dollars in most places. You are not “purchasing” Masses and if the person signing up for a Mass does not have the 5 or 10 dollars, the priest will say it anyway, or arrange for it to be said by another priest, without the person having to make the donation.

It is forbidden to “charge for Masses”. I am sure that CJ as a Catholic of long standing knows this. She just used shorthand as we do when we say “pray to saints” when we mean “ask a saint to intercede for us with God”.


Quite right.
Just making sure.
The audience is listening.


A poor soul once told a chosen soul that next to the Mass, the Way of the Cross is the most efficacious way to release souls from Purgatory. You can find various meditations for praying the Way of the Cross. “Everyone’s Way of the Cross” is my personal favourite.

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It is a donation.


THANK YOU Tis_Bearself. OF course you do not “Purchase” a Mass. It is a donation of offering for the Mass being said.

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