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The Table Video

Array Array& Lynn Underwood

How Lament Helps - Lynn Underwood & Elizabeth Hall

Professor of Psychology at Rosemead School of Psychology, Biola University
Senior Research Scholar, Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence at Case Western Reserve University
May 30, 2017

Psychologists Lynn Underwood and Elizabeth Hall discuss the virtues of lament: how it helps us to express our grief out loud.


What do you guys make of this, the power of lament in the form of the voice of the sufferer?

There’s, I think that the power of it is not simply. Certainly it’s there, but it’s not only or simply in the being able to articulate it. I think there’s something very powerful about taking an internal experience and finding words to it. My sense, though, is that the value of it and the reason that it ends up being so important is because it allows for the interpersonal process, that when you are able to express, that means the other person is able to hear and you are able to feel heard.

So I think that that is the value of that process of being able to verbalize so that the lament that we’ve been talking about as a Christian practice can’t be a lament outside of the presence of God. For it to be something that actually is healing, something that brings meaning, it has to be practiced to God. It has to be a lament directed to God in order to have that power.

Similarly in the therapy room, I think it’s the presence of the therapist who is hopefully paying very, very careful attention and trying to facilitate that expression for the sake of the person feeling heard and understood. I think that that is something we underestimate often.