Young Women in Trouble: Liz, Sean, Maura, Joani

Guilt, Blame and Grief

"Once Brennan came home, he was healthy, and happy and well taken care of," Liz remembers, about her baby boy.

"It was a really good feeling," says Liz's husband, Sean. "Definitely the best feeling I ever had in my life. You're getting yourself ready for the biggest thing you're going to have to go through in your life."

 

And then one day, the unthinkable happened. "We were taking a nap together, and when I woke up, he wasn't moving or breathing. I knew something was wrong," Liz says.

"She brought him upstairs, and I saw he wasn't breathing, and I got on the phone immediately to 911," Sean recalls.

"I had put Brennan on the bed. He was already turning blue," Liz says. "And then it was police and EMTs, and they took him to the hospital. The hospital said that he passed away from SIDS [Sudden Infant Death Syndrome]."

Liz's mother, Maura, says, "Elizabeth and Sean told us that he had died, and I just kind of dropped to my knees, and I went off, like, ‘How did this happen? What happened? I don't understand.' I think that losing Brennan broke Elizabeth."

[AD]"We would sit on the couch for hours, in each other's arms, just grieving, because we had this life, and then bam, we didn't," Sean says. "But I don't know how it dissipated into not talking about him at all."

"I definitely have not grieved the loss of my son," Liz says. "I shut myself down from the grieving process."

Liz takes a car ride to the cemetery. "This is where my son is buried," she says. Liz hasn't visited her son's grave very much. She's not even sure where it is. She starts to cry. "I was his mother. I'm supposed to protect him. I think it's harder because I was with him. I mean, I hope I can get better, but I don't think I'll ever get over it."

A few days after Brennan's death, family members say they discovered many pharmacy bags and prescription slips in Liz's home.

Liz explains, "I discovered prescription painkillers in college. I had used drugs recreationally on and off throughout the years."

Joani, an interventionist documenting Liz's story, says, "Considering Liz's long history with prescription drug dependence, it is highly likely that she was under the influence the day that Brennan died in her arms of SIDS."

"Sometime after Brennan was born, Elizabeth had been at my house," says Liz's mother, Maura. "I had a prescription for hydrocodone from a root canal. At some point, some of them were missing, and I was concerned that maybe Elizabeth had taken them."

[AD]"After I gave birth, I took tramadol, which is a non-narcotic pain reliever," Liz says.

Sean says, "After he died, I know she mentioned to me that she had been self-medicating a little bit with some OxyContin to deal with the loss. I just didn't know how to react to that."

"After Brennan died, I started using Percoset and then OxyContin pretty quickly. I was snorting both of them," Liz admits.

"After Brennan died, I was cleaning out Elizabeth's bedroom, and I found a stack of envelopes in a bag," Maura says, regarding the pharmacy bags.

Joani is a former Dr. Phil guest and recovering addict who is now an interventionist. She documented Liz's struggles and brought the story to Dr. Phil.

Dr. Phil, onstage with Sean and Maura, asks Joani, "You think these guys are kind of covering up for [Liz] and not really dealing with this straight up?"

"I think the family is having a hard time absorbing the fact that there is a very high probability that Liz was under the influence of narcotics at the time that Brennan died, and so they are all dancing around the issue," she says. "But I think they all believe, and I've talked to them all on an individual basis, that they feel, with her significant narcotic history, that she must've been on narcotics the day Brennan was born. But nobody wants to confront her about that or deal with that, because it can be very painful for them, but as I've told them, for Liz to deal with that, the truth will set her free."

Are Liz's mom and husband in denial about her addiction?

 

Dr. Phil asks Maura if she prefers to not be involved with Liz's intervention. He tells her that some people just don't have it in them to confront their loved one, and there are serious ramifications at stake " they need everyone on board and focused. Maura says she needs to be involved. She agrees that Liz has to get honest about her drug use in order to heal from her demons.

"Have you ever asked her?" Dr. Phil asks, about whether Liz was taking drugs the day Brennan died.

"No," she says.

[AD]"Don't you think you should?"

Maura takes a deep breath. "I probably should, and maybe that's on me. Maybe I should ""

"You don't want to know, do you?" he asks.

"No. I don't," she says honestly. "I guess because it hurts me so much for her," she says, fighting back tears. "I hurt so much for her."