Hopeful Lament

Hopeful Lament

Tending Our Grief Through Spiritual Practices

by Terra McDaniel

Hopeful Lament
  • Length: 192 pages
  • Dimensions: 5.5 × 8.5 in
  • Published: October 10, 2023
  •  Forthcoming
  • ISBN: 978-1-5140-0310-7
  • Item Code: A0310

We need to rediscover lament to heal and hope again.

We've lost the practice of lament. Most people don't know how to process personal or communal mourning and instead struggle to honor their tears, vulnerability, and the full weight of these disillusioning times. But tending our grief might be exactly what we need to reimagine a way forward.

Tracing her difficult experiences of a catastrophic home fire, a threat to her child's well-being, and other devastating losses and upheavals, Terra McDaniel offers a clear framework for expressing heartache and burdens. McDaniel says, "Lament is surprisingly hopeful. As strange as that may sound now, I promise it’s true. It's an act of trust both that we can face pain and survive, and that God cares about our anger, confusion, doubt, grief, and fear. Lament refuses to bury pain or, just as dangerous, to give in to despair."

Hopeful Lament makes space for the powerful act of crying out before a loving God and offers provoking reflection questions, embodied practices, and applications for families with children. Learn how to journey gently through suffering.

"Could there be a more timely topic? A more desperately required guidebook than how to grieve? Everyone still living has lost. We have lost friends. We have lost family. We have lost years of our lives. We have lost hope and faith and church and God. We have lost ourselves and we have lost our way. We have lost our bearings and lost our composure. We have nothing left . . . until we get it back again. That might take some time, and Terra McDaniel gently guides us through this period of loss during which we dare not yet even hope to regain some of what was. Is that too bleak? No. That's lament."

David McDonald, founder of Fossores Chapter House

"Terra McDaniel accompanies us into the waters of loss and lament in her book Hopeful Lament. She offers a helpful perspective around how we in Western society have forgotten the healing practice of lamenting. She is a faithful guide for reentering the healing practice of lament through wise and embodied ways to pray and process our sorrows. Terra doesn't shirk from the deep wounds and authentic sorrows of our day. She doesn't offer us a way around them (as if there were one), but she advocates lamenting as a way through while holding the hand of our living, loving Christ. One of the uniquely wonderful aspects of this book is Terra's inclusion of practices for families with children. We experience loss together; together we lament, and together we heal."

Lacy Finn Borgo, spiritual director and author of Faith Like a Child

"We all experience it—death and loss—and yet few of us know what to do with the profound grief. We have few guides. Terra McDaniel gives us that guide in her book Hopeful Lament. McDaniel helps us understand our grief and then journey through it with simple yet profound spiritual practices that help us find our way back to hope. She teaches us how to lament. For all who are experiencing the rawness of grief and for those who companion them, this book is for you."

MaryKate Morse, dean of Portland Seminary and author of Lifelong Leadership

"Lament is critical for renewal, and Terra McDaniel shows us how this courageous step connects us to the God of compassion and opens hope for recovery. This book goes about the hard but transformative work of recognizing real pain and pursuing wholeness. It is an important, heartfelt message."

Grace Ji-Sun Kim, professor of theology at Earlham School of Religion and author of Healing Our Broken Humanity

"In no less than two seasons of life when lament and grief became a close friend, I was faced with a question: What can I do in my season of pain? Often the pain can cause us to neurotically keep busy just so we don't have to feel. That isn't the way. What so many of us need is understanding of how to constructively walk through grief in such a way that we are crawling and inching our way toward grace. This book offers a path. There is perhaps no greater a read than this."

A. J. Swoboda, associate professor of Bible, theology, and world Christianity at Bushnell University and author of After Doubt


Introduction: When the Last Resort Is the Only Choice

1. Ashes for Beauty
Breath Prayer Practice

2. How Grieving Got Lost
Tearing Practice

3. Learning to Speak Sadness
Psalm Writing Practice

4. Letting Sorrow Be a Conversation with God
Tear Jars Practice

5. Grief Work
Pantoum Practice

6. Trauma and the Courage to Lament
Terra Divina Practice

7. Lamenting When Community Is Toxic
Grounding Practice

8. Grieving Together
Mandala Practice

9. Children and Loss
Worry Tree Practice

10. Finding the Way Through Lament
Collage Practice


Recommended Reading


Terra McDaniel is a spiritual director for adults and children. She spent two decades as a pastor and ministry leader and earned her MDiv at Portland Seminary. McDaniel wrote More Than Ordinary with Doug Sherman and is a regular contributor to the Companioning Center blog. She lives with her husband in Austin, Texas, with her twin grandchildren nearby.