Grief and Pull-Ups

By Natalie Taylor

In CrossFit

January 30, 2012

PDF Article

Natalie Taylor uses CrossFit to confront—and beat—her monsters.

About three-and-a-half years ago, I slammed into my first real-life monster. I lost my husband, Josh, in an accident. At the time of his death, I was 24 years old and five months pregnant with our first son. The year following my husband’s death was a lot of things—confusing and sad at first, and then exhausting and sad once I had my son. I spent a lot of time crying in my bathrobe and feeling like I was aging at an exponential rate. I loved my new baby, but my own identity was deteriorating at an alarming speed.

Somehow, I realized that exercise was an essential part of recovering my former self and that internal strength and endurance were directly proportional to external strength and endurance.

My older sister kept pushing me to start CrossFit. When she was home for the holidays, I couldn’t believe how much stronger she looked just from a few months of CrossFit. Slowly, she got me started on CrossFit despite the fact that I had every excuse in the book.

As months passed, I bought one more small thing to add to my gym. And while my son slept, I would be in my garage using some pretty awful form to try to resurrect my broken body and soul. The craziest part is that it actually started to work.

Free Download


11 Comments on “Grief and Pull-Ups”


wrote …

After reading this blog, I started to think about it...My little brother dies a year ago of a brain tumor. I think that I have been able to channel my grieving process through crossfit, too. I'm not sure how or why...But they say everyone's grieving works a progresses in different ways.
My prayers are sent to you and your son in your difficult time. Good luck with everything ;o)


wrote …

Beautiful piece! "it's a huge sense of relief that none of the issues of my life matters as soon as the WOD starts...because if you don't focus 100%, the bar or box or ball is going to get the best of you." I couldn't agree more. And I am right there with you when you say, "We are there to prove something to ourselves." I love setting my focus before the workout and the sense of accomplishment afterwards. It is life changing. I applaud your humble beginnings and the guts it took to take those first steps on your own in your garage and in your grief. I'm sorry for your loss, Natalie and so glad you have found the Crossfit community!

Thank you for sharing your story.


wrote …

Excellent read, thank you for sharing your story!


wrote …

Very moving and all too true, Natalie. I discovered CrossFit in 2006 in January. In July we almost lost our daughter to a devastating chronic illness, beginning a period where she could not go to school. At the same time our business was being crushed in a tough local economy. The White family absorbed an 80% pay cut.

Enter CrossFit. I was able to go to the gym and leave all of my anger, my anxiety, my fears in the gym. When I went to that dark place that we visit I was able to find a kind of freedom from all of it. In many ways CrossFit available at that time was the salvation of my family.

I'm so very sorry for your loss.



wrote …

inspiration natalie and very well written. god bless you and your family. big shout out to big sis Moo:)


wrote …

That's inspirational! All good things do start with burpees! Thanks for sharing a great story of success and how the body and soul are so closely connected.


wrote …

Wow! Just lost a tear! That strength comes from you. Thanks for sharing.


wrote …


I always program my own WOD's, using the mainsite for ideas, coaching, etc. After just reading your story that you were so kind to share, I've made the decision to quit putting off my "50 Burpees for time" WOD. It's like staring at the bar (or kettlebell) and not wanting to pick the darn thing up because it's in the process of handing your *ss to you - and that's what I've been doing for the last week - putting it off and instead doing different WODs.

So, Natalie, thank you for your inspiration. Your message touches very close to home for me too. Crossfit came along in my life at the perfect time and has helped to bring closure to some stuggles that have been haunting me for years.

God bless you and your child. I'll keep you in my prayers that you will be provided for in all your needs. Tomorrow's WOD is dedicated to YOU!

Sincerely, J. Jacobs


wrote …

Thanks so much for this article. This is powerful stuff and we can all take pieces from this and learn and grow. Thanks again!


wrote …

This is a great community! thanks for sharing your stories it makes you feel that not only you are the only one grieving or crying or even thinking about yourself that you are a failure.I can imagine how she felt,even tough i did not lose my husband ,he was out for one year on an Army mission after just a few days of my baby being born,and the loss of support plus the hormonal changes makes you feel that you are completely hopeless.Wish you the best in life and the best example to your son is YOU!!! keep the good work!! never give up,and when things get tough think about someone else and pray for them!


wrote …

WOW... I thought I was the only one who loved the story "The power of One.." I fell in love with the movie... it speaks to every part of my life.. and I have subjected so many people to a forced viewing of this in the end they see why I appriciate it so much.... Way to go.... Natalie... one of my favorite lines in that book is " every river begins with one drop" as Peekay is searching for answers on how to face his fears and overcome the many obsticles in his life or to give up... You are the start of a raging river and I am honored to join you and so many others down the path... I am new to the Journal but not new to Crossfit or embracing the suck...

Leave a comment

Comments (You may use HTML tags for style)