Solitude haibun

For the dverse prompt.


We are all islands whose shores are bathed in the same waters but whose secret core is silent and untouchable. Pain and sorrow dig deeper than joy. We carry them alone, the wounds and the disappointments. Love, laughter can be shared; we are alone with our grieving.

lone swan

no nestlings to replace

her lost love

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

41 thoughts on “Solitude haibun”

  1. I agree with you, Jane, ‘pain and sorrow dig deeper than joy’ and we are alone with our grieving because nobody else can ever feel what we feel, which you have captured so eloquently in your haiku.

    1. The three times I’ve suffered real loss, when my parents died and when my first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage, even though I was surrounded by people (mother, sisters, husband) who felt the same loss just as deeply, it was as though I was alone in the universe with the pain.

  2. I adored your first line. Sharing can be cathartic, but one needs to select someone who gives a shit–otherwise it is weeping before swine. I agree that your haiku is very touching.

    1. Thanks Glenn. The way I look at it, we can’t ever ‘share’ deep emotions. We can lean on someone like sitting down to take the weight off tired feet, but it’s physical comfort we’re asking for, not sharing.

      1. Yes, I thought about your haibun after I left your site. There is something about deep grief that makes it impossible to share readily with others but then, thinking about when my husband died and then later my best friend, I feel there is some solidarity in standing there wrapped in the personal solitude of grief but being among others who are in a similar state. Of course later on, alone, the deep grieving comes but there is something about the shared experience of grief that helps ease the pain.

      2. I know what you mean about solidarity. It helps in a physical way, just having someone to put your arms around helps. But the deep distress is ours alone. I remember when my parents died feeling so utterly alone with grief despite being surrounded by literally hundreds of people who were also in tears.

    1. I’m not sure how you would resist it. I think some people think they can attenuate emotions they don’t want by drawing other people into their sadness. It seems to me it’s a question of denying what’s happening rather than ‘sharing’.

    1. It’s true that having someone to lean on, just to know they are there is a comfort, but for me it doesn’t alter the fundamental sorrowing or deep disappointment that’s going on in my mind.

      1. That is sad, Jane. Many people have this unaltered fundamental sorrow — some, for most of their lives, some, only for a portion. You insight is important, thank you.

    1. That’s how it is, I think. There’s something ghoulish about this trend to grab completely strangers and weep on their shoulders when a tragedy occurs to people none of the weepers ever knew.

    1. Thanks. I have never understood why people cluster around one another for comfort. It isn’t there. I remember my dad’s funeral. I was there but I saw nobody. I bawled my eyes out all the way through and it was as if I was completely alone.

    1. I think we have to bear everything alone. We are individuals. What touches us touches no one else in the same way. We live in our heads and our emotions, not in a kind of collective therapy.

  3. This is very very beautiful and the swan image so apt. When we first married we had a mill pond behind our house and a pair of swans lived there, and I always felt for the day when maybe there would only be one. I can be happiest in my solitude amongst my friends and family but might fell quite alone without them.

    1. Thank you, Alison. There are a lot of birds and animals that never take a second partner when the first dies. There seems no natural logic in it, so why do they live their lives alone? We’re probably not the only ones who can’t ever shake off grief.

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