A Carmel family is sharing its story in the hopes that it can help those who have experienced trauma.
The lives of Brad and Amanda Swearingen, their children – Ally, 16; Kenna, 13; and Gavin, 11 – and those around them were forever changed on May 5, 2014.
That day, 2-year-old Gavin – whom the family affectionately nicknamed “Moose” because he was large for a preemie – fell out of a swing at the family’s Carmel home, hitting his head. He started having seizures. Emergency responders were quick to arrive, and Gavin was taken to a nearby hospital and transferred to Riley Hospital for Children, where he received the best of care.
The Swearingens kept hoping for a hint of optimism from those treating Gavin, but the outlook initially was not good, with Gavin’s survival in doubt.
But Gavin and his family recently celebrated “Moose Day” on the ninth anniversary of his accident. That same week, a five-part podcast detailing the family’s journey launched. In “Threads Unseen: Unraveling a Story of Trauma,” the Swearingens and others affected by the trauma discuss Gavin’s journey, the challenges it presented and the healing process. The podcast is narrated by Sheri Fella, founder and CEO of Bloombase, who has worked with Brad Swearingen as a master executive coach.
An inner call to share and help others drove the decision to record the podcast.
“Trauma is scary, to face alone or even as an outsider,” Brad said. “The stories in the podcast are to help provide a view that’s rarely seen, to share a story to help others and help others not feel afraid or alone.”
The podcast was in the works for nearly a year and was “extremely difficult” at times, Amanda said.
“But we always knew our goal was to help at least one other person or family, and the process really has been helpful to us as well,” she said.
One of the themes of the podcast is that dealing with trauma requires help. That was difficult for Brad and Amanda at first. But the situation was affecting not only their marriage (they will celebrate their 18th anniversary in June) but work relationships and the family dynamic. Both eventually sought professional counseling and coaching.
“Their story shows us all how valuable help is, how hard help is to accept, and how hard help is to find,” Fella said. “This simple idea of ‘showing up’ for each other without expectation of the person we want to help is hard and necessary for all of us when we are in crisis.”
The healing process shifted the family’s priorities. They now make having dinner together an emphasis, and each day they ask, “What are you grateful for today?”
They are, of course, grateful Gavin survived. In the podcast, Amanda described “Moose” as a shy toddler. But now he is energetic and talkative.
“People have told me that Gavin is a bright spot in their day, and I think that’s an excellent way to describe him,” Amanda Swearingen said. “He has been through so much, but he continues to be full of love and joy. The world is a better place with him in it, just as he is.”
The podcast is available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and other streaming services.