The last place I thought I would find growth through grieving was at the gym. After losing Mike, my husband,I needed an outlet to focus on creating my new normal. Although the daily ins and outs of life happen and our new normal is almost created without our consent, I needed to focus for just an hour on myself and building my strength. I had spent the first year almost like a robot just doing what I I had to do to survive. Having three young children, the option of retreating into a shell was not even close to an option. I got through that first year day by day and at times minute by minute. As I entered the second year, the reality that Mike wasn’t ever coming back hit me hard but I knew I had to start creating a new normal for me and my kids. I had no idea where to start. I needed motivation, I needed strength and I needed therapy. A friend had been posting on Facebook about a gym she had recently joined. The more I read her posts,I was drawn to finding out more. I got the details and made an appointment. I knew absolutely nothing about going to the gym. I thought I would go in, walk on the treadmill, use some crazy machines and leave. I entered the gym not knowing what to expect.I know that everyone says exercise helps, releases endorphins, builds muscle. I needed the gym to be my escape and my therapy at the same time. I met with my trainer, Doc and started the process. Every day I got up at 4:30am and got my butt to the gym. My trainer made me accountable, he would text me every day and made sure I was on my way. The beginning weeks were tough, my bed and my home had become a safe place for me. Venturing out into the dark to lift weights was almost symbolic of the grief journey I was on. I would get there and follow my trainers directions. Lift this, push that, run this far, and repeat. As I worked out I let the weights symbolize the anger, frustration and sadness I was feeling. I listened to music that would get me motivated and determined. I started to love the gym. As I made progress in the gym, was able to lift more weight and endure more and more difficult workouts, I found myself making more progress in my life. I started to smile more, my kids even noticed my change. The gym had become therapeutic and motivating. I was becoming stronger and stronger. I was becoming tougher. I was handling the bad days with a much more clear head. One particular leg day, I was listening to Zac Brown bands new album on my ear-pods. Anyone that works out knows that leg day is like no other. Your legs support your whole body, they keep you grounded. Working out those leg muscles is a challenge, therefore keeping your mind busy with music sure does help. I was doing my squats and step ups and all of a sudden a song came on that nearly crumbled me. The song, Bittersweet hit me so hard. I actually started crying right there in the gym. I couldn’t stop, tears streaming down my face. I’m sure others thought I was sweating ALOT or crying because of leg day, but I was all of a sudden back in the beginning days after the loss. I took a minute and through my ear-pods, I heard my trainer yell, Let’s roll. I started the step ups again and got back to work. I did it, I actually worked through a part of this journey right there on the gym floor. I could have left, I could have started second guessing myself, I could have let grief beat out leg day, but I didn’t. I used the strength I was physically trying to build get me through the grief I was trying to process.
Not everyone will find their strength in the gym, and that’s ok. Just find something, anything that will help, that will become your escape, your therapy. Take time for yourself. We are all on this journey to create our new normal. To find how we fit without our significant other.
It has been almost 8 years since Mike passed and although I have fallen off the workout wagon a few times, the sense of comfort I feel when I walk through the doors cannot be put into words. My strength will continue to grow both physically and mentally. I know that if I can get through one of the worst losses a person has to go through, then I can get through anything….even leg day.


Laurie King is so excited to be sharing her thoughts and lessons she has learned on this journey of widowhood. She met her husband in 2004 and they began our family shortly after. They had two daughters 14 months apart and 5 years later had their son. While she was pregnant with her son, her husband was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer and they lost him 18 months later.
She is a school counselor in the Philadelphia School District and has a Masters degree in Counseling Psychology.
They currently live in Philadelphia and the kids are now 9, 13 and 14. She spends her free time with family and friends and recently bought a houseboat down in North Wildwood. She was blessed to find love again with her boyfriend, Mike and his three kids.
Laurie is thankful to share her story! She says, ‘We all know this is the one club, we that we wish we didn’t have to belong to. Thank you for allowing me to share.’