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The Sandbox Memorial: One Mother’s Way of Remembering Her Baby

Death is hard enough, but for some reason the death of babies always gets to me the most.  When I read about this, I thought what this mom did was beautiful and I wanted to share it with you. 

sandboxFrom Today Moms:

A grieving mom’s thoughtful gesture for her toddler is prompting tears and an outpouring of support from parents who have lost a child.

Ashlee Hammac, who lives in Lake City, Fla., decided to add a sandbox to the grave site of her baby boy so that her older son, Tucker, would be more comfortable visiting the resting place.

“I wanted him to have a happy memory with his brother and not the memory of his mama crying for days,” Hammac, 24, told TODAY Moms.

“Since we’ve had that out there, he’ll actually ask sometimes to go and play with baby Ryan… He calls that baby Ryan’s house.”

Ryan was born last October, one day after Hammac’s birthday.

When he arrived, Ryan didn’t cry and he wasn’t breathing.  Doctors told Hammac her placenta had ruptured and a team of nurses whisked the baby away before she got a chance to see what he looked like.


Courtesy Ashlee Hammac

Ashlee Hammac and her son, Tucker, visit baby Ryan at the hospital last fall. Ryan, who had severe brain damage, lived only five days.

Doctors finally got Ryan’s heart to beat, but the little boy was suffering from severe hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), a condition in which the brain does not receive enough oxygen. Ryan had no brain activity recorded at any time after he was born, Hammac said. He died five days later.

Hammac, who is a single mom, has been visiting Ryan’s grave every day, bringing 3-year-old Tucker along on days when there was no one else to watch him. She noticed the boy would often want to play on top of the grave and that’s when she got the idea to add the unusual feature.

“He has a sandbox at home and absolutely loves it,” Hammac said. “I think it helps him because he doesn’t get so upset talking about him when he can go out there.”

She posted a photo of Tucker visiting Ryan’s resting place on her Facebook page to show her family. Her mom then allowed a support group to post the picture and the response was overwhelming. Almost 50,000 people have shared the photo on Facebook and 175,000 have liked it.

Hammac had mixed emotions at first about the image becoming so public, but after getting lots of support for her decision and her charity, which raises awareness of HIE, the photo “has felt like a blessing,” she said.

To read the full article click here.

I think this is a wonderful example of creating something beautiful from your grief and I wish Ashlee and her family all the best.


About Shannon

I am a university educated full-time working mother of four children. Proudly Canadian, I freeze my butt off along with my loving partner, two dogs and a cat. I hope you enjoy reading my posts as much as I love writing them, but if you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all.


20 thoughts on “The Sandbox Memorial: One Mother’s Way of Remembering Her Baby

  1. What a wonderful idea!

    Posted by linbritt | March 19, 2014, 7:26 am
  2. What a loving idea for both of her sons.

    Posted by Chatter Master | March 19, 2014, 7:36 am
  3. That is beautiful – but so hard to read!

    Posted by Laura | March 19, 2014, 9:05 am
  4. I think this is a fabulous idea.

    Posted by Theresa | March 19, 2014, 9:41 am
  5. Fantastic….this is why we are inspired to build our site….to give everyone a place in history..

    Posted by hamidlifewall | March 19, 2014, 10:16 am
  6. It’s a beautiful way to keep memories.

    Posted by leenap23 | March 19, 2014, 10:46 am
  7. This is too heart wrenching but also brave….! A very very courageous way to make peace and keep going on for Tucker…

    Posted by nirupamaprv | March 19, 2014, 11:27 am
  8. Absolutely lovely!

    Posted by Cate Pane: The Clear Parent | March 19, 2014, 11:48 am
  9. Beautiful and truly motherhood is blessing we take for granted

    Posted by MommyBegins | March 20, 2014, 1:51 am
  10. What a beautiful way to include a toddler in the grieving process.

    Posted by Bronwyn Joy @ Journeys Of The Fabulist | March 21, 2014, 3:43 am

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