Grief During Lent

“What kind of feelings come to mind when you think about Lent? Do you think of sunshine & rainbows? Or do you think more of clouds and gloom?”

This was a conversation that took place a few Sundays ago with some of our students during Group Life. Many students described Lent as a time that reminds them of Eeyore, a time that could potentially bring you down emotionally.

I assured them that my intention wasn’t to bring the mood down and bum everyone out. Instead, I wanted to prepare them for the season. Lent can be a deep, serious, and sometimes sad time of the Christian year. We’re preparing for the death of Jesus. As we walk towards that, the topic of grief is very prevalent. This is also a topic that can be hard and/or uncomfortable to talk about.

The reason I talked to the students about this is to prep them for the grief that comes out during Lent. All around them in the church there will be heavy talks, especially in the Lenten study groups. I want them to feel comfortable navigating through those big feelings. And honestly, I want everyone to feel comfortable navigating through their own feelings of grief.

So let me ask you the same questions I asked the students.

What is your understanding of grief? What comes to mind when grief is talked about? What feelings come to the surface?

These questions aren’t the most fun questions. They can sometimes bring up feelings we don’t know how to deal with. One way to work through these feelings is to scan or be in tune with your body.

So, here is a trick you can try. I want you to plant your feet. Sit up tall. Close your eyes and take some deep breaths. As you do this, I want you to pay attention to what’s gong on in your body. Is your heart racing? Is it easy or hard to take a deep breath? Do you feel restless? What are you most prominent thoughts? Then, when you’re ready, open your eyes.

Grief, as the students agreed, is something most people don’t enjoy talking about. The students discussed how sometimes people try to avoid talking about grief all together. What I loved though, was how optimistic many of the students still were. They shared how even though grief may bring us down, there is still a light at the end of the tunnel. One student stated that even in grief, there is still joy to be found because God never leaves us.

I loved this. The student was right. God never, ever leaves us. Even on our darkest day, God is still by our side. Following this thought, I closed our time together by asking the students to identify 5 places they had seen joy in their week.

Lent is always a hard time of year for me personally. The anniversary of my mom’s passing usually falls during this season. Last week marked 10 years. My little brother also moved out of Texas. The emotions are still raw, and the grief is still present, but like I was reminded by a student, there is still joy to be found. So, I made my own list. This week, I have found joy in:

  1. My family.
  2. My friends.
  3. The students I work with.
  4. The beautiful weather we’ve had.
  5. The snuggles I got from my puppy.

As we continue through our Lenten season, I want to remind you that it’s okay to talk about grief. Name it. Don’t let it be a scary monster you keep hidden in the closet. And when you can, list 5 places God has shown you joy.

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