It goes against nature for a parent to bury a child.
It’s also devastating for a mother to report on her own daughter’s tragic death on live television.
Yet this nightmare became a heartbreaking reality for news reporter Angela Kennecke (shown above right), who learned in May that her daughter, 21-year-old Emily Groth (above left), had overdosed on fentanyl — a highly addictive narcotic and opioid.
Ironically, Kennecke, a news anchor at KELO TV, a CBS affiliate based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, had been covering the opioid epidemic for several years — but this time it was life imitating art, not the other way around.
At the time, Kennecke addressed her profound heartbreak from her anchor chair, according to multiple reports.
“The opioid epidemic has hit home in a tragic and devastating way for me personally,” Kennecke began.
“The loss of a child, especially in a sudden and shocking way, has turned my world upside down. I never intended a member of my family to become part of the statistics you hear on the evening news. Nobody does.”
“We must come up with better, more affordable ways to treat addiction,” she continued. “We also need to abolish the stigma that prevents many from seeking help, including my daughter …”
A record 71,568 Americans are projected to have died of drug overdoses in 2017, according to initial CDC (Centers for Disease Control) estimates — a national increase of nearly seven percent in overdose deaths from 2016 and an all-time record.
With some passage of time, though, Kennecke’s pain has turned to resolve.
“I thought I can let this loss, this devastation, destroy me or I can do something about it,” she said on the air. “And over the course of my career I have asked so many parents to talk to me and just people in general who are grieving who have had horrible, tragic things happen to them … and I thought, I have to talk about it,” she said on “CBS This Morning.”
“I have an obligation to talk about it,” she explained. “My number-one reason for talking about it is to erase the stigma that is surrounding addiction, especially the use of heroin, opioids.”
A television broadcaster from the upper Midwest weighed in on Kennecke’s life-changing loss.
“It seems there is little right now to stem the tide of addiction,” this woman and mother told LifeZette. “Often, I think, when you lose someone that you love so deeply, that has your entire heart, the only way to make sense of the loss is to find some purpose in it all. On some level, Angela’s comments about this on the air in the hope of sparing another life may be one of the only ways, for her, through this.”
Sadly — Kennecke has plenty of company in her grief.
“People are so blessed to now have someone high-profile working in the name of all who have been lost to this awful epidemic.”
Seattle TV personality Penny Legate, a former KIRO TV anchor and host of KING TV’s “Evening Magazine,” lost her daughter to a heroin overdose in 2012.
“If somebody had told me I would have a daughter who was addicted to heroin and would die of heroin, I would say, ‘No, no, no. That’s not my story, that’s not my life.’ But that, in fact, is my life and I’m here to say it can happen to anybody,” Legate told KIRO Radio at the time.
Addiction does not discriminate in and shape or form.
Kennecke recalls talking to her daughter for the last time on Mother’s Day of this year.
Her message to parents: “Trust your instincts,” she said during an appearance on CBS’ “This Morning.”
“I had to walk a very fine line between trying to help her, trying to talk to her and alienating her, or pushing her away. So I was always trying to approach it with love,” she said. “We were working to get her help, I just didn’t get there on time,” she added.
She’s started a foundation in memory of her daughter called Emily’s Hope.
“People are so blessed to now have someone high-profile working in the name of all who have been lost to this awful epidemic,” said the Midwest news professional to LifeZette.
See Kennecke’s report on her daughter’s death in the video below.
Elizabeth Economou is a former CNBC staff writer and adjunct professor. She is a regular contributor at LifeZette. Follow her on Twitter.