What is lament and what does it mean to experience lament?

After Andy died, I would find myself on the floor in his room sobbing uncontrollably. Sometimes, I was almost afraid that I might not ever be able to stop crying. I feared that I would just stay in that room on the floor and not be able to get up again. It was scary – scary to me and I’m quite sure scary to others as well. I had just called it ‘the bad cry’ or ‘the ugly cry’ and would hope that it wouldn’t happen again.

It was during a six week Starlight Ministries support group series that I eventually learned that there was a different name for these gut wrenching experiences. I was lamenting the loss of my son, and it was not something to be feared, but something to accept and to name. It was something that served a purpose in grief and healing.

Before that day, I had really only heard the word ‘lament’ when reading the Bible. I guess I had the stereotype in my head of ancient women of the Bible who would wail at the end of a funeral possession of a loved one demonstrating their love. I was so wrong. There is so much more to lament than wailing. It is a crying out to God and to the world. It is literally feeling like you have been ripped apart (where the word ‘bereaved’ actually comes from). It is a begging for help in this deep, dark time.

Interestingly, the final stage of lament was what I found the most helpful. It is the fact that after I have poured my heart out, I can experience the hope and trust that things will look better again, certainly not the same as they once were, but better than they feel right now. Crying out and releasing just a little bit of that heaviness can help me think of the ‘but yets’ in my life.

Life is really hard right now, ‘but yet’ I got up this morning. I have lost my precious son, ‘but yet’ I still have family and friends. I have experienced this tremendous loss, ‘but yet’ the compassion that I have gained toward others has been so valuable causing me to reach out to strangers in ways I could never have imagined.