Megan Wetzel (WWJ/Brooke Allen)

'The Grief Factor' Examined In WWJ Special Hour

It's not an easy subject to talk about for most

June 21, 2018 - 9:37 pm

DETROIT (WWJ) - We've heard a lot lately about tragedies ... suicides, traffic fatalities, and shootings, but we haven't been talking about the people left behind, trying to pick up the pieces.  

WWJ Newsradio 950 presented "The Grief Factor," a one-hour special (now a podcast) looking at grief and where you can find help.

Grief is a subject Megan Wetzel knows a lot about. Her brother died in a crash a year ago last May - in what was said to be the deadliest crash of 2017. 

She says out of the five stages of grief... the first stage is toughest. 

"Denial hit really hard for the first year, thinking Preston would be coming home," says Wetzel. "Feeling like he has to be walking through that door - he really didn't die. Now that we are getting into the second year, some of that has shattered."

She says she had struggled with depression for 10-years prior to the crash and that the bargaining and depression stages have merged into one for her. 

"I remember talking with God and saying, 'I'm the one that has these suicidal thoughts, why not take me instead of him?' Why not give him the second chance, you know, he's so young. Twenty-four. Give him the chance - you can take me instead. That's something I'm getting better with but it can still be difficult here and there. Especially when you get triggers, about on his death or reminds you of his death - that's when those things can happen."

One added layer Megan has had to deal with is the extra media attention - in total, five people were killed in the crash that took her brother's life, including Candice Dunn who had just won probation agent of the year. 

"I think I decided that instead of having the fear of seeing those headlines - being able to decide what to do with those headlines, and say ... I'm going to take this and teach others."  

Megan now shares her story through Mothers Against Drunk Driving and uses social media as a creative outlet for her grief. 

Health System, says children grieve in different ways. 

Peggy Nielsen, manages the SandCastle Grief Support Program at Henry Ford Health System, says children grieve in different ways. 

"To a 3-year-old or a 5-year-old - they don't even know what dead means - or the permanence of it," says Nielsen.  

WWJ Health Reporter Dr. Deanna Lites talks about the death of her son Nicholas, who had epilepsy, and died from a seizure at age five.  

Nick and Deanna Lites
"A lot of people don't talk about grief and especially when it's something as tragic as a child - I think that makes it even more difficult and I've found throughout the years that it becomes hard for people and so I try to make them not uncomfortable or people say nothing and then you kind of feel like I wish someone would acknowledge it ...

"People do want to hear about their loved one and I think it makes them feel good if someone remembers them or asks a question about them," says Lites. 

Judith Malinowski, a clinical supervisor with St John Providence's Eastwood Clinics says more people are coming forward to talk about their feeling and especially in connection with the grief or loss they feel -- attached to the loss of a job, divorce or a loved one. "Loss is a part of our daily life," says Malinowski. 

"People are now feeling that they can come and talk about things that perhaps in the past they didn't feel comfortable talking about." 

Resources To Help Handle And Recover From Grief