Revisiting tragedy

By Marilyn J. Drew
Posted 6/4/19

I could feel my heart quickening with every step as I searched for my missing child that April morning. After being startled awake by the sound of his younger brother calling to me, I had run hither …

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Revisiting tragedy


I could feel my heart quickening with every step as I searched for my missing child that April morning. After being startled awake by the sound of his younger brother calling to me, I had run hither and yon in a frenzy. Now I stood at the top of the coulee where the fence line carved out the yard. I could feel the smooth wood under my hand as I leaned on the top rail and looked down into the sloped draw.

No! Oh, No! There was my 2 1/2-year-old son lying face down in a pool of water with the life gone from his being.

After being diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) in January of 2015, I was referred to a local therapist who specializes in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing).

“Let yourself feel the pain of that moment,” my therapist said as she skillfully guided me through a session of EMDR, a therapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of traumatic life experiences.

After years of suffering with the aftereffects of losing my child, I had been introduced to a type of treatment here in Powell that would finally allow my mind to heal from the emotional trauma of the incident.

Our brains and nervous systems are created to handle stress and trauma. But when overwhelmed by traumatic stimuli, they go into an overload situation. The result is that the anxiety of traumatic events stay “locked” in our nervous system, waiting to be released.

During EMDR, I identified three things: The vivid visual image related to the memory, negative beliefs about myself concerning the incident and the related emotions that were locked inside of me such as depression, unforgiveness and fear. With the help of my therapist, I chose a positive outcome that became the goal of the treatment. I then began processing the memory while holding a clicker in my hand, which helped in dislodging the trauma from my brain.

As I looked over the fence and refused to turn my gaze away, I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. The therapist was right there with me, gently encouraging me to allow the Lord to heal the festering wound in my soul. The process would take more than one session, but I finally experienced breakthrough in the form of peace like I had not known for years.

As I reflected on the death of my little son in a column at Easter time this year, I mentioned that my biggest challenge had been in forgiving myself. Truth is I could never find the power to forgive what I still deem as my greatest failure ever. That’s where Jesus comes in. He paid the price in his death, burial and resurrection for ALL of my transgressions. Now, according to the Bible, my sins are as far from me as the east is from the west. It’s up to me to believe it and receive it.

The loss of Brian at such an early age has had a dribble-down effect in our lives. That which could have brought utter destruction to all of us has brought much positive outcome. On the eve of his funeral, I received Jesus as my savior. Three years later, his dad did the same.

Little Tyler, who was 1 1/2-years-old at the time, is now a lead pastor in a large church in Knoxville. He and his wife Amy have four amazing children and serve the Lord with all their might.

A year after the incident, a third son was born. Travis, who is the manager of a high-end seafood restaurant in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, is a delight to all who know him. He and his wife, Laura are proud to be the father and step-mother of Wesley — a wonderful young man who will be a senior at UNCC this fall.

My dad came to know the Lord as well as both of my brothers and sisters. My mom renewed the commitment she had made as a young girl and lived out the rest of her 94 years “safe in Jesus.”

Although my marriage to Brian’s dad later ended, I found great happiness in a new life with my beloved Drew.

Was coming to grips with the loss of my little son painful?

Yes! But now I can look over that fence and have mercy on the young mother who was about to face the greatest tragedy of her life.