What If You’d Reached for My Hand Instead of the Gun?

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

NOTE: If you or someone you know is struggling, please get help. In the U.S., you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800–273–8255.

“BAM!” I heard, as I walked past you sitting on the bench at the foot of our bed. I thought the workers downstairs had dropped a piece of drywall.

I turned to you to ask what that was, and that’s when I saw the gun, but it was too late.


Photo by Bogdan Glisik from Pexels

[NOTE: If you’re struggling, please get help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1–800–273–8255.]

A few months after my husband’s suicide, we were at a restaurant and ran into some friends who were with a woman who’d been widowed the year before.

Our mutual friends introduced us, and mentioned that I, too, had lost my husband.

“I know just how you feel!” said their friend. “My husband dropped dead on the tennis court last year.”

I told her how sorry I was to hear that, and we returned to our table. Since then, “my husband dropped dead on the…


Taking photos of cemetery flowers: something else I never thought I’d have to do.

The flowers arrived a day early, on a Monday, now my least favorite day of the week. It was also the 17th, now my least favorite day of the month. But 14 months after you chose to end your life, it’s way past time to cross this one of many gruesome tasks off my list. And I can finally send a note to my godmother, who months ago sent me a check and asked that I please put flowers on your grave for her.

Luckily, they arrived while our son was out. I carefully used an X-Acto knife to remove…


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Mission Bay, January 2020

I drove by our old house today

There really isn’t much to say

We lived there pre-Google Maps, pre-heartbreak

But my broken heart still knew the way

I found myself on autopilot, just like most days now

Driving past the house where our son and our dreams were conceived

Back when I still believed

In fairy tales and the future

The live oak, once a baby, is now sturdy and solid

Reaching to the sky the way I reach for you

Would I go back?

To that house, never

To that time, in a heartbeat

But now, instead of two hearts that beat as one, there’s only mine

Beating for…


Photo by Lukas Rychvalsky from Pexels

How to Choose a “Happy Birthday” Card After a Tragedy

I ran into Walgreen’s for my favorite lipstick, one I just bought last week to replace the one I’d lost; I’d actually already replaced it last week and managed to lose the new one too. This is your brain on trauma.

While there, I thought I’d knock another task off my list — that of buying my son, who will be 20 in a couple of weeks, a birthday card. It didn’t occur to me that this would be a task fraught with peril.

There’s no occasion section called “birthday cards for young men…


My latest thrifting find

I’ve always been acquisitive, scoffing at the plethora of research that shows that experiences are more valuable than things.

Nope, nope, nope; at least not for me. I like things. It gives me great joy (take THAT, Marie Kondo) to look at my stuff and remember where it came from, how I found it, who I was with when I did…and all of this is mostly because it’s secondhand stuff.

Thrifting, you see, is the perfect combination of things and experiences

Visit an estate sale, and you see the history of the people who lived there laid out before you. Sometimes it’s sad, but mostly it’s fascinating. There, you see that…


Early this morning, these words spilled out of my mind, almost faster than I could write them down. Surviving the suicide of a spouse is a dreadful rollercoaster; from moment to moment, I go from angry to sad to hopeful to joyous to lost and back around again for another heart-stopping ride.

But I know, too, that these moment pass. And, on occasion, I even dare to look forward to a life that is again filled with love and hope.

If you’re struggling, get help. Please.

How Dare You

How dare you do this in our bedroom, our sanctuary.

How…


Photo from Rahul at Pexels

GSR: Gunshot residue. You’ll be tested for this, because law enforcement must ensure that what they see in front of them is the truth. It took three hours for them to get to me, for reasons that remain unclear; three hours of standing outside on a mercifully cool and unbearably beautiful winter day here in South Florida, surrounded by shocked and grieving family members. During those three hours, while I was permitted to roam around our small complex, I was also required to remain in sight of the officers at all times. When I asked to use the restroom, they…


A gas station outside of town

I’m writing this in early December, in a small town in Louisiana. I’m here to spend a few days with my daughter (not the one with the granddaughter) in a small town about an hour outside of New Orleans. I flew in last night and am alone today, left to my own devices while my daughter is at work.

As it happens, she is house-sitting until tomorrow for friends who live in the next town over. When we arrived last night, I was struck by the utter silence, a lack of sound that is reminiscent of New Jersey. …


Born on New Year’s Day, Rocky died on the Ides of March. Named “Hercules” at birth, my father legally became “Rocky” shortly after serving in World War II; it suited his outsize personality.

Every year on Rocky’s birthday, we hosted an open house. Those parties were fabulous; I still hear them in my daydreams.

My parents’ friends represented the best of the Greatest Generation: boisterous, determined, tough. They treasured every moment; from their Ellis Island arrival to the Depression to the most devastating war in history, they survived one of the most challenging centuries ever. …

Dawne Richards

Random advice, warnings and humor, mostly based on my own poor choices. Visit coachdawne.com for more.

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