Sad Experiences Lead to Beautiful Haiku

I recently asked haikuists of the Haiku Society of America to send me one haiku they wrote that deals with a sad experience. Some of our saddest moments in life have led us to write beautiful

For me, only one good thing comes out of sadness. That is, it often propels our creativity. Some people try to squelch their feelings of sadness through means such as drug or alcohol abuse. That, to me, is a shame. Think of all the brilliant art that came into our world by artists who allowed themselves to really feel, without the use of medication.

We all, somewhat surprisingly, wrote about death. I had expected at least some haiku about divorce, job loss or leaving one’s home.

This is Part One of the blog. I must say, my fellow haikuists write masterful haiku that will inspire you to write.

war memorial how cold the stone

Nothing hits you more than seeing someone, in your mind’s eye, who you knew well, their name carved in stone. Want to make me cry? Walk with me through Arlington. 😦

Mike Rehling
Haiku News

funeral bells toll
Her gift
to the church

When they built a new church in the diocese that my mother-in-law belonged to, they didn’t have the money for a bell. She donated the money. When she died the workmen needed to work extra long hours to get the bells in place for her funeral. That was the first time they rang.

Gayle Bull
Modern Haiku

leaving you–
lips at the winter

Written for Rev. Raymond Roseliep after his untimely death on December 6 (Feast of his beloved St. Nicholas), 1983. I am presently writing his biography, ‘Raymond Roseliep, Man of Art Who Loved the Rose.’

Donna Bauerly
Wind Chimes 12


Thanks for the question. I will tell you, this is part of what takes me to haiku, memorializing a moment, maybe like Frost, as a stay against confusion. I have haiku from the scene of an abduction, hospice, psychiatric ward, death notification, you name it. (I would recommend googling Robert Epstein’s site on death poetry, too.)

I will leave you with one from sitting with a woman while her father died. She watched him endure a more than ten-year battle with Alzheimer’s. As we passed through his last moments, her story of his life included her father making dandelion wine in the good days…

a long slow death
how mellow the dandelion
in dad’s wine

Dan Schwerin
frogpond 33.2, 2010

Note: Dan is a pastor.

My mother died in April.

forsythia bloom
reaching the end of the bough —

Charles Trumbull

staring at the phone
after word
of his suicide

Christopher Patchel
RawNervz 8/2003 VIII:2

funeral procession . . .
snowflakes blowing
into the headlights

Randy Brooks
Harold G. Henderson Award 1st place, 1998. Frogpond 21.3 Winter 1998.

Christmas Eve —
hanging her ornaments
without her

My aunt, who was also my godmother and someone I was very close to, exchanged a Christmas ornament each year with my mother. My aunt was 52 when she died of a rare blood cancer. I wrote this haiku about the experience of hanging those ornaments on the tree the first Christmas after she passed away.

Ce Rosenow
A haiku sequence:

This Tender Hour
this tender hour…
the sand mandala
given back to the wind

raindrops within raindrops
my face reflected in your eyes

the hummingbird
I did not see–
your eyes before death

the nurse switching off
your oxygen tank…
my gasp for breath

Marjorie Buettner

day of the obit
inside his wallet
me at eleven

Roberta Beary
moonset 4:1 (May 2008)


My mother, who has since passed, contracted Bell’s Palsy. She regained limited ability to use the affected side of her face; the remaining paralysis was permanent. Mom’s smile became thin
and uneven. The new dentures fit her mouth somewhat, though never quite. Eventually a gold weight was inserted into the upper eyelid that didn’t close properly.

a crimped rose petal –
mother’s voice as she struggles
to form the words

Modern Haiku Vol XXXII Nr 3 (Fall 2001)


mother’s day . . .
wrapping the pink dress
for the funeral home

Charlotte Digregorio
Modern Haiku, 42.2, Summer 2011

Copyright 2011 by Charlotte Digregorio.

About Charlotte Digregorio

I publish books. I have marketed and/or published 55 titles. These books are sold in 46 countries to bookstores, libraries, universities, professional organizations, government agencies, and book clubs. In 2018, I was honored by the Governor of Illinois for my thirty-eight years of accomplishments in the literary arts, and my work to promote and advance the field by educating adults and students alike. I am the author of seven books including: Haiku and Senryu: A Simple Guide for All; Everything You Need to Know About Nursing Homes; You Can Be A Columnist; Beginners' Guide to Writing & Selling Quality Features; Your Original Personal Ad; and my latest, Ripples of Air: Poems of Healing. The first four books have been adopted as supplemental texts at universities throughout the U.S., Canada, India, Pakistan, and Catalonia. They are sold in 43 countries, and are displayed in major metropolitan cultural centers. These books have been reviewed, recommended, and praised by hundreds of critics, librarians, and professors worldwide. I am also the author of a poetry collection: "Shadows of Seasons: Selected Haiku and Senryu by Charlotte Digregorio." Two of my books have been Featured Selections of Writer's Digest Book Club. I am regularly interviewed by major print, radio, and television organizations throughout the U.S. I regularly sign books at libraries, chain bookstores, and university bookstores, and do poetry readings at art centers, cafes, tea houses, and galleries. I was recently nominated for two Pushcart Prizes in poetry. I have won fifty-nine poetry awards, writing fourteen poetic forms. My poetry has been translated into eight languages. I do illustrated solo poetry exhibits 365 days a year in libraries, galleries, corporate buildings, hospitals, convention centers, and other venues. My individual poems have been displayed at supermarkets, apparel and wine shops, banks, botanic gardens, restaurants, and on public transit. I have been nominated and listed in "The International Authors and Writers Who's Who" in Cambridge, England and in the "Who's Who In Writers, Editors & Poets U.S./Canada." I hosted my own radio program, "Poetry Beat," on public broadcasting. My poetry has been featured on several library web sites including those of Shreve Memorial Library in Louisiana and Cornell University's Mann Library. My background includes positions as a feature editor and columnist at daily newspapers and as a magazine editor. I have been a public relations director for a non-profit organization. I am self-employed as a public relations/marketing consultant, having served a total of 118 clients in 23 states for the past several decades . In other professional areas, I have been on university faculties, teaching French, Italian, and Writing. I regularly give lectures and workshops on publishing, journalism, publicity, poetry, and creativity to business and professional groups, and at writer's conferences, universities, literary festivals, non-profit organizations, and libraries. I have been a writer-in-residence at universities. There have been about 400 articles written about me in the media. I have served on the Boards of writers and publishers organizations. My positions have included Board Secretary of the Northwest Association of Book Publishers. I served for five years as Midwest Regional Coordinator of The Haiku Society of America, and for two years as its Second Vice President.
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4 Responses to Sad Experiences Lead to Beautiful Haiku

  1. Jim Sullivan says:

    I read everyone one, Charlotte. I liked them and had never thought of death haiku as a category or collection. But I did write half a death haiku several months ago but could never get it completed. Maybe I should take that as a good omen.


  2. mbcoudal says:

    Wow! Very inspiring! Yes, I, too, find difficult times can and do lead to greater creativity and art! (My aunt is Ellen Wade Beals, who recommended this blog post to me. I’d just taught a couple of classes on haiku!

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