How DO you do it?

Six years ago, my son Cullin died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome at six months old. He was laid to rest and I haven’t slept much since. The first year, I didn’t sleep. Life was hard during the daytime but even more hellacious at night. His absence was ever so present during those silent hours when I should have been up nursing, rocking or changing him. There were times that I did not know how I would make it another day. Others have asked how I keep going and often I wonder myself, “How do I do it? How do we do it?”

“How do you do it? How do you make it day after day, living life without your child? What do you do to get by?” Some ask because they have not endured the death of a child and cannot even fathom how we make it. Others ask because they need to know, to survive. They feel as if they cannot live another day or take another step. Their child has died and taken their heart with them. They ask, and though my words, suggestions, and responses will never fix their broken hearts, I respond to each one.

Related: How Many Kids Do You Have?

“How do you do it?” With a passion. Take that which you love and use it to combat the effects of grief. If you are a photographer, photograph your grief, a writer, use your words to paint a picture of your anguish. If you garden, create a beautiful space to grow plants in honor of your child. Integrate your passions with the pain to drive your purpose when you feel hopeless. What do you love to do?

“How do you make it?” With persistence. The day after day grind of grief can be debilitating if you do not have a plan for your pain and then stick to it persistently.  Birthdays, death dates, and missed milestones can be especially hard but prepare yourself for both the expected and unexpected times of grief. Plan for the agony to appear at the most inconvenient times, and plan for pain when facing those predictable life milestones without the one you love. What can you do? What will you do?

“How can you keep going?” With stubbornness. Sheer determination to take that which holds you back and use it to propel you forward will help you keep going. Stay headstrong, share your story to help others, and will yourself to keep going. Keep pushing, keep caring, and keep stubborn. Speak about your child. Speak when no one listens. Love when no one sees. Write when no one reads. Care when no one cares. Do when no one does.

“How do you get by? With unity. The connections that I have made within this “club” have been the drive behind my climb when grief seems insurmountable. My ability to get by is dependent upon those who hold me up during my weakest moments online and in person, members and non-members of this club. “I am because we are. We are because I am.” I am getting by because we are. We are getting by because I am. Ubuntu. In grief and life, we cannot remain in isolation, we need each other. Who do you need?

“How do you survive?” With creativity. The need to make and create has always been present in my life. I cannot draw at all, but I can write poems. I can’t crochet but I can photograph people and objects. Whatever your medium, get it out. Write about it. Rap it. Sing it. Shout or make it. Use your creativity and express your emotions to survive and combat the effects of grief. Whatever you do, just grieve it.

Related: How Using One 3-Letter-Word Changed My Grief (And My Life)

“How do you handle the holidays?” With projects. Cullin died October 1, 2012. The following three months were a complete blur. Though I had other children to entertain, that first Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve were too much for my freshly broken heart to celebrate and Cullin’s siblings were longing for my presence over presents. Each year since, I have kept my spirits light when my heart is so damn heavy during the holiday season by hosting and joining projects from October through the end of December. This is how I do the holidays.

Join the following events alongside us:

October in Avery’s Garden Daily creative grief activities and connection

A Memory Grows Wave of Light event A local event on the courthouse steps

October 15th Wave of Light Global events on IG & FB + photo & video sharing

Capture Your Grief with Carly Marie A month of Capturing + Expressing grief

You are invited to join the following events that we are hosting at

The Empty Space Table Honoring + naming the empty spaces around holiday tables

Memorial Ornament Exchange A personalized ornament exchange

Ornamental Release An anger release + broken pieces craft

New Year’s Grieve Grief release + Spirit renewal ceremony


photo credit- Ginny Limer