In the Cleft

Joy Comes in the Mourning

Christian - Living
256 Pages
Reviewed on 03/07/2015
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Speaker, author and grief counsellor Dana Goodman lives in Kamloops British Columbia.

Dana has a passion for helping people navigate through their grief journeys. Her memoir, In the Cleft Joy Comes in the Mourning, written four years after the deaths of her husband, son and mother-in-law to cancer, recently won top novel at the Wildsound Writing Festival in January.

Dana's heart's desire is that In the Cleft will help her readers embrace their own profound losses and find hope in the midst of their pain. Renewal, meaning and purpose can be unearthed even after unthinkable tragedy.

Dana loves being outside with her family and especially loves mountain biking, running and listening to worship music. She feels content in her everyday life if she has read an inspiring story, connected with her husband, son and friends and spent time in the outdoors with her dog.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Vernita Naylor for Readers' Favorite

Life brings about several types of challenges and Dana Goodman knows it first hand and all too well as she shares with us her story, In the Cleft (Joy Comes In the Mourning). When Dana was young, her grandmother, with whom Dana had a very special relationship, died of cancer; years later her husband died at only thirty, leaving her with their two very young sons, Zach and Carter. After losing her husband, several other loved ones would be diagnosed with cancer as well, from her son Zach to her mother-in-law. Would Dana be able to handle these challenges? Who can she turn to for help in softening the blow? Where can she go when it appears that disaster is striking at every turn? God? “Never in my life had God seemed so puny, powerless and distant,” Dana said. How will her relationship with God be affected? Will she continue to believe in Him or turn her back on Him and leave the faith? In the Cleft (Joy Comes In the Mourning), Dana Goodman gives an account of how she dealt with the highs and lows of sickness, death and her relationship with God.

I was captivated by the title: In the Cleft (Joy Comes In the Mourning) by Dana Goodman and found it to offer a poignant account of how we must live each day as if it’s our last because nothing is promised. I loved how Dana Goodman was transparent in how she dealt with each tragedy and the love and support that she experienced along the way. Everyone will experience their own form of tragedy at one point or another so I challenge you to enjoy life each day as if it’s your last. This means that wondering about bills, fighting, or pondering about what you are lacking is immaterial because tomorrow you could either experience sickness or death.

Xulon Press

"The author is a talented writer, who creates beautiful, sweeping images that carry the reader smoothly through what is, in truth, a bumpy journey. The author describes her fear, sadness and anger with pinpoint accuracy, but stops to thrill readers with pictures, conversations and scenes that rejoice in the beauty of everyday life."

Xulon Press

Pastor Andrew Piklyk

Readers will be blessed with Dana’s vulnerability. For those in the valley, In the Cleft: Joy Comes in the Mourning, will bring restored hope. Her writing will inspire you to dream again. This book is an awakening to Christ’s incredible grace and a credit to the author’s faith. Once you pick up this book, you will find it very difficult to put down.

Pastor Andrew Piklyk of Bible Truth Church

Ron Dart

I received your book a day ago----read the missive in a single sitting--was charmed and entranced, enthralled and captured by the poignant and evocative insights--- it's a burnished gold of a book---a real beauty---tragedy and hope, in an honest and raw way, jostling wisely and judiciously in your vulnerable soul--take heart---your well told and painful journey will bring healing and restore life to many---thanks for the sacrament and chalice of eternity so generously shared.

Ron Dart, Professor of Philosophy and Politics at the University of the Fraser Valley

Tofts Reviews

"Every day my heart grieves, and every day I find joy."

This is such a heartbreaking story of losing not one, but three, family members is a very short period of time. What a soul can go through during this lifetime is unfathomable to many. Author Dana Goodman opens her heart and pours emotion into this gut-wrenching narrative in a tender, but loving way. Her approach teaches many of us unknowingly blessed souls what a mother/wife/daughter/sister can go through.

"Grief can be a very self-focused journey, but my heart began to burn for the greater purposes of love God had for me. I wanted to use my pain to heal others." This line reminds the reader just how brave and strong Dana is. Not many people get to this point in their lives.

As hard as it is to watch another soul go through overwhelming pain and agony, this story gives us the confidence and reassurance that we can get through the darkness with compassion and gratitude.

"You and I have only a short time here on this earth. We are blessed beyond what we deserve, but we are also required to endure much heartache. In the broken moments of our lives, seeds are planted in the very rich soil of God's kindness and when those seeds are showered with his love they bear much fruit and multiply. Just when I thought nothing could grow in the barren waste of broken dreams, seeds began to grow into beautiful plants of love and hope." Archangels could not have said it better.

Family photos throughout the book make the love and bonding more real. Their beautiful smiles captivate the reader.

After living the pain and torture the author goes through (as readers usually do), the reader is left wishing to cocoon the author and her family members from further hurt. Hopefully, there is a follow up/update in the works as the reader is left with a loving concerned feeling for the author and family members.

--Tofts Reviews

Author Margaret Kazmiercz

This book deserves more than 5 stars as it is deeply embedded in the mystery of God's love. The author needs to be congratulated on her courage to write this painful book as her journey in revealing her heart and pain has been relived in every letter that she has typed.

It would have been human to have given up after all Dana Goodman has been through, but her strength is clearly grounded in the God of Love. Her struggles just seemed to bombard her, her heart being ripped apart through loss. But her amazing gift to keep going is echoed in this statement:

"In the broken moments of our lives, seeds are planted in the very rich soil of God's kindness and when those seeds are showered with his love they bear much fruit and multiply. Just when I thought nothing could grow in the barren waste of broken dreams, seeds began to grow into beautiful plants of love and hope."

However, this hope did not just come to the author, she had to endure many years of excruciating pain and suffering. She truly understands the agony of Calvary but above all has witnessed the Resurrection that comes after death. Her faith is proof of this. A lot people would trash God and leave Him, bitter and tormented by the challenges given to them. But Dana Goodman held on with her fingernails to hope. The support of her family and Christian friends too gave her the glimpse that not all was lost. Greatness and healing could come out of the ashes.

This book is truly inspirational and a must read for those that have suffered loss, especially the loss of a child. I confess I cried often, but tears are the ointment of God's healing balm.

I highly recommend this amazing account of an exceptional woman's journey to hell and back. Dana Goodman stayed focused on God, at times tentatively, understandably so, but none the less, still communicating with Love even though He seemed at times silent and distant.

Be warned this book will change you.

Author Lesley Sears

What an emotional ride!! Dana has done an incredible job of reaching in to her self and capturing the feelings she finds. And while she does find grief in abundance she also finds hope, love, joy and healing! This book was beautifully written.

Erika Annala

I read this within 24 hours and could not put it down. I cried most of the way through it, as expected; but also laughed out loud and smiled as Dana recounts the story of what she and her family went through during the illness and death of her first husband, son, mother-in-law and illness of her current husband. This is a story of survival and faith. The struggles and questions a mother must ask and worry about as well as the long answer to everyone's question of "how are you?" The story of her life is amazing and flows like a wave you know will thrill you (this family is full of daredevils!) but also take you along, almost to the point of no return. I sincerely appreciate how open Dana is sharing her feelings on making supremely hard decisions as a wife and mom; and how she carries on. This book is extremely important in helping people understand how Dana's faith in God was tested and how she's come to understand the path she walks with Him. It is important to understand how families can go on when tragic things happen. Dana is a wonderful wordsmith and this book is a treasure to read.

Cindy (Baltimore, MD)

This review is from: In the Cleft: Joy Comes in the Mourning (Paperback)
**Disclaimer--I received this book through the GoodReads Giveaway Program from the author-thank you Dana!**

How much heartache can life throw at just one person? From reading this book, the answer is a lot . Without getting into spoiler details, I can safely say that I do not know how I would handle dealing with everything that Dana has gone through in such a short amount of time. She has come through her grief, her heartache, her sadness, her cleft with grace and dignity. I know there are good things in store for her future-there just has to be.

In the Cleft is a quick read, but make sure you have your tissues at hand when you begin. You will cry, you will laugh, and you will smile as you watch Dana transcend her journey. And you will be amazed at how she comes out on the other side.

Mary Potter Kenyon (Iowa)

This review is for: In the Cleft: Joy Comes in the Mourning (Paperback)
Author Dana Goodman writes with blunt, and sometimes gut-wrenching, honesty as she relates her crisis of faith when she lost a husband, a son, and a mother-in-law to cancer. And yet her beautiful words in finding her way back to God in the midst of sorrow can give us all hope. Reading her story, I was wrenched back to 2013, the year I lost my grandson, and I got an intimate peek into what my daughter must have experienced as well as the mother of a dying child.

Goldie (Kamloops BC)

This review is from: In the Cleft: Joy Comes in the Mourning (Paperback)
I just finished this amazing book this afternoon. I'm not sure how an author can write a book and book that is so heart-wrenching and uplifting at the same time but Dana has accomplished this. This was a book that once started was nearly impossible to put down. I read it with tears in my eyes and peace in my heart. This book will be an amazing resource not only for those who have lost a loved one but

Goldie (Kamloops BC)

I just finished this amazing book this afternoon. I'm not sure how an author can write a book and book that is so heart-wrenching and uplifting at the same time but Dana has accomplished this. This was a book that once started was nearly impossible to put down. I read it with tears in my eyes and peace in my heart. This book will be an amazing resource not only for those who have lost a loved one but also for those who are supporting them.

Candace Locke

"Motivation to look for the joy"
This review is for: In the Cleft: Joy Comes In the Mourning: A Story of Hope After Tragedy (Kindle Edition)

Dana exposes herself in a way that will help anyone going through a similar tragedy. She shows a super strength that you can't even fathom in a time of unbelievable challenges and ultimate sorrow. If you need an inspiring story, this is it!! Very well written and full of raw emotion. This book touches your heart and will motivate you to look for the joy.

Sandra K. Stiles (Sarasot

This review is for: In the Cleft: Joy Comes In the Mourning: A Story of Hope After Tragedy (Kindle Edition)

Dana Goodman is definitely a courageous woman. I say this not because she has had to handle the death of three family members in such a short time, but because of how she handled it. God does't promise his children a life of ease. He promises to walk with us continually through these dark valleys. This raw look at Dana and her grief was not sugar coated. It was not full of only the great things God helped her through. This was full of reality. Her true thoughts and feelings. Feelings that God was a puny God who could not help her. Anyone who has lost someone to a slow disease has had these feelings. Not everyone will admit it. That doesn't mean as Christians that we don't have them. It means when those feelings hit us, we rely on God to walk with us, and if need be to carry us for awhile. This book was hard to read because at this moment I have a friend who is walking this same path. Her daughter has been sick for such a long time and now her brain cancer is ravishing her body. It is painful to watch my friend go through this. Like Dana, she is such an inspiration as has her daughter been to us. She has leaned on God and let us know how tough it is. She is not walking this valley alone but with Jesus at her side. This is a book I think everyone should read whether or not they have gone through anything like this. I will definitely recommend this to family and friends. I am sharing this with my other half who teaches a Grief Share class at church. You can find other grief resources on Dana's site (

I received a copy to facilitate my review, the opinions expressed here are my own.

Janet (Kamloops)


This review is for: In the Cleft: Joy Comes in the Mourning (Paperback)
So often there are valleys that we all endure; and this book gave me the courage to know that there is always hope and ONE who is walking through it with us, even carrying us when we can no longer take another step. I appreciated her bare honesty and willingness to expose herself, in the hopes of connecting with those who have ever felt alone in their thoughts or feelings.

Diane Long

What a blessing! How difficult it must have been for Dana to share her innermost thoughts about the loss of her loved ones!,


Maureen Lefebvre

This review is for: In the Cleft: Joy Comes In the Mourning: A Story of Hope After Tragedy (Kindle Edition)

Written in a conversational, endearing manner, this book is like sitting down with a friend over tea as she shares some of the most vulnerable parts of her life. You will laugh, cry, be enlightened on several levels, and be inspired to develop a closer walk with God. "In The Cleft" will help you see how you can find hope in the hard times and light at the end of the tunnel.

Tracy Dahl

Breathtaking and beautifully told story of hope.

In the Cleft: Joy Comes in the Mourning is breathtaking. Dana's writing is honest and an authentic witness to the messiness of grief and loss. Her voice draws the reader into deep places of personal pain and journey's to places of unexpected joy.

Ruth Robinson

A beautiful read. Sad, funny, informative, The talented author writes intelligently and simply, making 'In the Cleft' such a wonderful read. The book helps readers' to work through and understand the sad and hard times that we all face at some time during our lives. Dana Goodman's courage in writing this wonderful story will be an inspiration to anyone who reads it. A beautiful writer!

Leanne Krahn

Words fail me as I write this review because I do not feel or think that any words are adequate to express the empathy in my heart and the gratitude I feel because Dana and her family were courageous enough to walk through the depths of their pain and then in a honest and vulnerable way Dana shared that with us. Dana conveys how messy grief is and how challenging it is to be a wife, and mother in the midst of crawling through the muddy trenches of ones own grief. As well as how at times we all choose, methods of coping that are not the healthiest. Through the midst of deep heart ache I am in awe that Dana was able to press into Jesus and hear his words of Heart Ache and LOVE for her and her family. No matter why a person is grieving I feel one would benefit from reading this book. I know I did and I was challenged to get off the sandy shore and get back into the most with Jesus again in my own journey.

Tracy Seigler

Heartbreaking and Beautifully told story, Sept. 11 2014

A beautiful and eloquently told story of hope after tragedy. Dana describes to her readers in her own way how she copes with her challenges and difficult losses she is faced with. Her heartbreaking story will have you crying, will make you laugh as well as inspire. Her strength and courage is something to be admired for. A beautiful family - a truly amazing women.

Saige Michel

This is such a fantastic book and written beautifully! You will not be able to put it down after you read the first few pages. It will have you laughing out loud during some parts and crying at others. Overall "In the Cleft: Joy Comes In the Mourning" is absolutely impeccable and I would recommend it to everyone!

Rhonda Wright

Poignant, overwhelming and heart wrenching at the same time as showing hope and grace. The author's bravery in exposing her inner most being and feelings will touch the lives of many. Readers will be comforted in knowing that they are not alone in their suffering and sorrow.

Cheryl Jaques

Don't miss out on reading this amazing book!

I highly recommend this book for anyone looking for hope in the messiness of life. It is well written offering humour insight and hope. The author allows herself to be vulnerable so that transformation can happen to all those who read her book.

Robin Rae Russo

I love this book. I couldn't put it down. Such amazing strength during a horrific time. Dana inspires me with her faith and ability to persevere through a mother's worst nightmare.


Breath taking, moving, transparent,real, uplifting... Highly recommended whether or not you've suffered loss... I wept, I laughed, I knew joy!

Geneva Hamlett

I won this book through the GoodReads Giveaway Program from the author, Dana. The author done a fantastic job writing this book, as her first one. So many people experience tragedy in their life and have noone to talk to too. If you want to read a book about hope,this is the book for you. It kept me engaged from the very first page. Great read.

Hetty Laidlaw

I loved the book and couldn't put it down.I too cried throughout the book. It is a book about love, faith, honesty and pain, but never giving up hope. Thank you Dana for sharing so honest about your journey and may this book help those who have a similar journey to walk, but also be a guideline for those who are a bystander. The reason why I only gave it 4 stars is the size of the book. I love to read in bed and it was a little bit to big, for me, to hold.

Susan Rodriguez

This was a well written book of one families journey of one painful loss after another, and amidst it all she does a wonderful job of making the time they have together as great as she can, making wonderful memories! I could not imagine one family going through so much and coming through it the way she has, but thank the good Lord above for the wonderful family and friends that were there for you throughout this journey of your life. I pray for you that this has been the hardest part of your life and the rest will be smooth sailing. I have never cried so much reading one book for all that your family has gone through.


Goodreads Giveaway Winner

Without a doubt, this is the most touching memoir I have ever read. I truly cannot imagine having to endure 3 cancer deaths within the span of a few years, to include a young husband and a 13-year-old son. The story of Zach's courageous battle with cancer was so inspirational. I have been going through a very rough time for the past few years and I have to tell you that his story moved me in a spiritual sense; please know that Zach's legacy continues and, I'm certain, will continue to reach others that he will only know about when he receives his crown one day. :) As a side note, my son's name is also Zach. Your Carter sounds like a terrific young man as well.

Thank you so much for sharing this story with me. It was so uplifting and encouraging.

J (Goodreads)

This book is an emotional read. If you are looking for a light read that will not make you feel deeply this is not the book for you.
Dana writes from her experience of pain and loss, over and over again. The loss of her son Zach is the core of the book.
It took me forever to finish this book as I could only read a few pages at a time due to the raw reality of Zach's illness and Dana's loss.
I am inspired by her vulnerability and honesty. "Forever my joy will always be mixed with sorrow."
I was particularly struck by her words on pg 162 "to celebrate without grieving diminishes the love, because grieving is a form of love."


This was a hard read for me, not because I have experienced any of what Dana went through, but because of ALL she has gone through! It was difficult to read about all that pain, but it was amazing to me how she has come through on the other side with her faith stronger. Her honesty about her struggles and her feelings was what makes this book so worth the read.