The article addresses the texts of laments, biographies of lamenters, and the context of customs related to lamenting. The analysed biographies and songs of lamentation were gathered between 2000 and 2013 (Ermakov 2011; 2014: 16–24) and represent the traditions of Ardatovo district of the Republic of Mordovia. The Mordvins are a Finno-Ugric people living in Russia, who have a republic of their own within the Russian Federation (26,200 km2), with Saransk as its capital. The respondents were born in the late 1920s and early 1930s. For the sake of comparison, representatives of a younger generation born between 1964 and 1980 were also interviewed. All of them live in the countryside. The biographies of lamenters and texts of songs of lamentation provide an overview of the cultural and historical environment of the period. Among other things, the article presents observations on religious taboos concerned with the recording of these songs. Lamenters in their immediate environment are also described. The article aims to discuss lamenting, songs of lamentation, and the living environment of lamenters, focusing on the biographical aspects contained in these songs. As a song of lamentation is a traditional form of expressing sorrow and mourning, it is a genre with poetically quite well-developed representation language. At the same time, a song of lamentation is linked to the person’s stages of life and is always personalized, which justifies viewing the tradition of lamenting from the biographical perspective. The first part of the article introduces the material for analysis, recorded during field studies, and provides an overview of Mordvin, particularly Erzya lamenting tradition. The second part of the article describes lamenters through their biographies told by themselves, and stories recorded during field studies, and analyses the artistic language of the songs of lamentation, highlighting the connection of the poetics developed over centuries (i.e. the collective common language) with historical and personal specifics. The article concludes with an overview of a present-day performance of songs of lamentation, which, in its turn, can be interpreted as the life story of the lamenting tradition. Only few diaries, letters, and other documents about lamenters or those who know traditions have been preserved in Mordovia. Due to the scarcity of sources, biographical research as well as autobiographical stories have been somewhat overlooked so far. However, it is through biographical research that we can see the reflection of society’s life: developments, changes, accepting one’s fate, making compromises, etc. Field studies proved to be irreplaceable for the preservation of such material.