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Running on Empty: A day in the life of grieving

Running on Empty: A day in the life of grieving

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Running on Empty: A day in the life of grieving

Jenny Filush-Glaze

The alarm blares into the early morning darkness, and she groans with annoyance, the night having passed by yet again into morning with little to no rest.

She turns off the irritating noise and settles back under the covers wondering what today holds, her energy already running on low and her motivation to get up and moving even lower. For about the millionth time, she questions, “What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I seem to get it together?” and then she begrudgingly rolls out of bed to begin the cumbersome task of “starting her day.”

After showering and watching the slow drip of coffee percolating, she sits down at the kitchen table to go over her “to do” list. Not surprising, she realizes that the list has gone missing, and she sits there in silence, berating herself for her inability to remember things.

The amount of times she has misplaced her lists or has lost documents of importance, or heck even her car keys, rolls through her mind like an avalanche, and she feels the oncoming wave of emotions moments before they barrel over her.

Placing her head on the table, she cries aloud at her loneliness, the empty chair at the table blinking like a neon sign, now a daily reminder of her heartbreak and loss. Her toast tastes stale, and she struggles to swallow it down, recognizing that even the simple task of eating has become a chore.

Sighing, she thinks back to just a few months ago, to the person she was before, and she suddenly misses her old self and her old life with a fierceness that brings on more tears, but also anger. As the feelings take hold, she recognizes that what little energy she had in the tank has now been depleted once again, and she slams her hands onto the table with renewed anger.

Slowly, she gets up and listens to the sound of her own slippers swishing down the hallway and then draws comfort from the feel of her sheets as she slips back into bed. At first, she feels tremendous guilt about not being able to face the day, but then relief pours through her as she gives herself permission to only do “the best that she can” on any given day.

In her heart, she knows this won’t be forever, this part of the grief journey, but for right now, it is where she’s at, and it stings and it hurts beyond all measure. And she wonders if she will ever be the same.

The phone rings in the other room, probably one of her best friends calling to check on her, but just the thought of making the trip out of bed is overwhelming, so she ignores it and closes her eyes. She’s so tired, and her body just aches with pain, her heart shredding her insides making it feel like it’s too hard to breathe.

The last thing she remembers before she drifts off to sleep is that she has promised herself that she will accomplish one task today, one task that will give her confidence that she is surviving and that she will be OK. The exhaustion is unlike anything she has ever experienced, and she hopes and prays that when she wakes up she will discover a little more energy in the tank, maybe just enough to help her make it through the day.

Jenny Filush-Glaze is a licensed counselor and owner of Serenity Community Counseling LLC. Contact her at

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