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The Unwind is Yahoo Life’s well-being series in which experts, influencers and celebrities share their approaches to wellness and mental health, from self-care rituals to setting healthy boundaries to the mantras that keep them afloat.
Amanda Kloots has endured the unthinkable over the past year. On July 5, 2020, after 95 days in the hospital battling complications from COVID-19, her 41-year-old husband, Broadway star Nick Cordero, died, leaving behind Kloots and their son Elvis, now 2. Throughout Cordero's health crisis, and in the months since his death, the dancer and TV personality has spoken with raw vulnerability about grief and resilience, subjects at the heart of her new memoir, Live Your Life: My Story of Loving and Losing Nick Cordero, co-written with sister Anna Kloots.
For her book's June 15 publishing date, the Talk co-host sat down with Yahoo Life for a candid conversation about loss, looking for silver linings and protecting her mental health as she takes on single motherhood.
Given her background as a dancer and fitness instructor, it's little surprise that the 39-year-old credits exercise as crucial to her mental well-being.
"It helped me through my divorce [to actor David Larsen, her first husband]," Kloots says. "It helped me through this 95-day battle with Nick. It has helped me with the grieving process since I've lost Nick. Every day, I move my body. Every day, I go outside or I stay inside and do something. Whether it's five minutes or 50 minutes, I let my body move. There is so much magic in that it's an instant stress reliever; it helps relieve anxiety. You're you're doing something — you're not just lying on the couch, you're forcing your body to move...
"It's my number one mental health go-to because it just helps with clarity and getting back into what we all need to remember to be grateful for, which is the ability to move our bodies and to have this beautiful gift," she continues. "And if there's nothing else that we've learned from this past year, it's how important it is to take care of your health and your body, and then that infiltrates into mental health; it all correlates. It's all one thing. If you take care of your body, it'll help take care of this [points to head]."
Kloots says that opening up about her journey has also helped her weather the emotional turmoil of the past year.
"You have to be honest and vulnerable because otherwise it stays up here [in one's mind] — and the minute you let it out and let it be free, it frees up space in your body and your heart and in your mind," she says.
While Kloots hasn't shied away from sharing her low points as she grapples with her grief, she's also pushing to find silver linings to help her make sense of it all.
"I think we have two choices in life when you go through something traumatic," she says. "You can let it take you over — and trust me, there are days that it does, there are days that it did. But your other choice is to keep on living and keep on striving and finding these silver linings."
She cites a favorite quote, which helps motivate her to find a silver lining each day: "Pick a flower each day, and at the end of the week, you have a beautiful bouquet."
Spirituality, too, is paramount, with Kloots saying she's "stronger" in her faith now than prior to her husband's illness.
"Through those 95 days, I've never felt more connected to my faith and to God ever," she shares. "I felt like I was like a super-spiritual woman. And I was crazy. I felt like every day I walked into that hospital, I had the armor of my faith on me, like just covering every part of my body, ready to go into battle."
That spirituality has helped her keep Cordero present in her life.
"Since Nick has passed, there's all these beautiful things that have happened and things that I don't even know if I necessarily would have believed in before I lost my partner," she says. "But now I'm like, Wow. There's so many beautiful things: signs, things that Elvis has done, dreams that people have had, where I'm like, Nick is here, he's around me. I feel it. Other people feel it. And it's beautiful.
"I've had my relationship with him before Elvis, our relationship as parents with Elvis and now I'm having this other relationship with him, a spiritual relationship with him," Kloots adds. "It has helped with grief. It has helped when I get really in my head and sad and feel depressed, or I feel sorry for myself. I think, No, he's here. He's watching me."
While she's been able to pursue new opportunities in recent months, from The Talk to her new book, Kloots says the "daily battle of being a single mom is real — it's very hard."
She references something a friend and fellow single mom shared with her: "The hardest part about being a single mom is that nobody sees the struggle... of raising your child alone. There's nobody there that can go, 'Honey, you're doing a great job' and gives you a pat on the back or a hug or a kiss and holds you when you just feel like [you're] a terrible mother, or don't know how to get everything done, or [are] about to have a breakdown. Even when you love your child so much, there's nobody there to do that for you."
She adds, "Such a hard part about being a single parent is that you don't have that person that sees what you're going through."
For now, Kloots is focused on being a "strong, independent woman that can take care of myself and my boy," but remains hopeful that one day there will be someone special in her life.
"I am totally open to finding love again," she says. "I love love. I love being married. I love being in a relationship. I love having a companion. I would love to have somebody in Elvis's life that would be that male figure for him.
"I know Nick would want that for me," she adds. "I know that because I would want that for him, if the tables were turned and it was me... I'm hopeful that there's somebody else out there for me. I really am. And when I'm ready, I hope that Nick brings him to me... I'm sure he'll have his fingers up in heaven orchestrating something."
Kloots also addresses the one-year anniversary of Cordero's death approaching in a matter of weeks, saying she intends to "let myself feel what I need to feel that day."
She notes, "With grief, you never know how you're going to feel on these anniversaries. A lot of times it's been hitting me the day before, so I'm fully prepared for that. I'm fully prepared for feeling completely fine, for feeling like I don't even want to get out of bed. I'm just going to let it happen how it happens, and surround myself with love and good people and then take it in stride, I guess."
In the meantime, she's finding solace in keeping Cordero's memory alive.
"There's one thing he definitely would not want me to do, which is stop living my life," she says. "He would want me to live my life — to be happy, to be strong, to raise Elvis with everything I possibly could. That also keeps me going, knowing, OK, he's watching everything I'm doing. He wants me to be happy. He wants me to keep going. He wants me to move forward."
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
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