About Denise

On August 8, 2012 my only child took his life. He was 19 years old. Drey was – and still is – my pride and joy.

I originally started “A Friend on the Walk” as a blog with help and support from my loving husband, Robbie Graham. Robbie had been reading some of my journaling since Drey’s death and encouraged me to begin a blog. My longer-term goal is to launch a non-profit organization that is dedicated to postvention… helping those bereaved by a suicide loss learn to live again.

Robbie and I met in 2003 and married in 2004. We had both been married before and each had one son. Drey was 10 when we married and Robbie’s son David was 5.

When Robbie and I married we knew our individual decision to follow the Lord was foundational to a healthy marriage. During our marriage we pursued the Lord – sometimes passionately sometimes not. We lead a Divorce Care support group, we are both involved as bible teachers in a small group setting.

On Mother’s Day 2011 we went to the west side sphere of our church (our church is quite large so there are several meetings around central Ohio). This was a first for us. We had always attended the main campus location. The west side sphere of our church reaches some of the more impoverished areas of Columbus. Little did we know this small decision was just the beginning.

In the Fall we decided we wanted to move to the west side. Our house sold FAST… and we found an awesome home right smack in the middle of the hood. We moved in on December 17, 2011. This was a HUGE change from our suburban surroundings of Worthington, Ohio but we felt we were ready.

As if that wasn’t enough – also in Fall 2011 a job opportunity came up at Central Ohio Youth for Christ – an organization my husband and I had supported and been involved with for several years. I resigned from my position as VP of Marketing at Cheryl’s Cookies and waited to hear news of the grant that would fund the position at COYFC. The grant was approved in May and I joined the team in June, 2012. COYFC works with at-risk teens and has a big presence and impact on the west side youth.

I must confess I was adjusting rather poorly to a shit-ton of changes. I missed my job, my coworkers, my old church friends. I missed being able to jog in my safe Worthington neighborhood.

And then my world as I’d known it came to an end. A complete abrupt NOTHING ELSE MATTERS stop. Wednesday morning, August 8th 2012 my husband had a text message from Drey when he woke up. “Thanks for always being a great stepdad.” There was a text message for me, too. I had rec’d it at 1:40 a.m. and read it at 7:00 a.m. “Hey I love you.” That was it. 4 words. Sometimes Drey was melancholy, reflective. I tried not to overreact. I looked out back to see if his car was parked here (even though he was living at his Dad’s sometimes he stayed at our house). No car. I went to his room. No Drey. I looked out front for his car. Not there. I checked his Facebook page. Nothing concerning there. I prayed. I reached for the phone and texted him back at 8:15 a.m. And I prayed some more. I went to work. I got the call at 11:20 a.m. It was Drey’s Dad and Stepmom. I knew before he said a word. But what I thought I knew wasn’t the full truth. I thought Drey had attempted suicide but he was still alive. I drove fast. I drove like a maniac. I screamed the whole drive. I yelled for God to keep him alive the whole way. But when I arrived there were only cop cars everywhere. There was no ambulance. I ran. I yelled. I scanned the small crowd of teenagers gathered in front of his Dad’s house. “Where’s Drey? Where’s my baby?” No sign of Drey. The police wouldn’t let me in the house. “Where’s the ambulance!” I screamed desperately. “Mam, he’s already passed.” A police officer delivered the news. The most dreadful news of my life. No parent should ever have to hear those words.

So here I am. Devastated, lost, despairing. God how I miss my son. I grieve, “heal,” listen, blog, pray, talk, cry, teach, worship, love and somehow I even laugh.


14 thoughts on “About Denise

  1. My dear friend and sister in Christ,

    I totally missed that you started this blog – I think it is a wonderful thing in all ways and it makes me really happy that you are doing this. I feel honored that I while I am far away, I have been on this journey with you through prayer and love. Now that I am spending more time in Columbus, I hope we can spend more physical time together. Your transparency is shining God’s light to many. Your honesty is shining God’s comfort and care to others in need. I sense that God called you to do this and I think you for answering his call.

    LOVE YOU my dear,


  2. Dear D,
    I am confident that God will use your transparency in your life and in the lives of the many folks who read and pray with you. As always, I am with you on this long journey. I love you deeply.

  3. Oh my gosh I am so sorry. As you know I lost my Kaitlyn to suicide too 4-11-13. You blog for the reason I blog…..to try to live and make sense of what cannot be made sense of. If not for blogging and writing I would die. For now anyway. May you obtain some measure of peace, but I know how hard that is to achieve.

      • Thank you. I know what you mean about feeling alone, even though we aren’t, we really kinda are. We all travel a unique path in this nightmare, but it is so helpful to have the words of others that have unfortunately experienced the same thing.

  4. My heart is broken for not only myself but for you and the many mothers who are suffering this same kind of loss….it brings with it a complicated grief. I pray that peace will always be with us as we make our way through this horrible trial. God bless you.

  5. Hello Denise. First, I am so sorry for your loss. I cannot imagine the loss of a child and the thought of one of my young children taking their life is something I can’t imagine. Suicide has left a deep impression on my life though. My 17 year old brother took his life 15 years ago this past weekend. I read in the Dispatch about your organization LOSS and was wondering if there was any way I can help.

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