This Mother’s Sandbox Tribute On Her Baby’s Grave Will Make You Ugly Cry

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shutterstock_140252878It is difficult for me to write this story because I am on the verge of an ugly cry. Literally the worst thing I can imagine is losing one of my kids.

Every time stories like this come up about a family dealing with loss, I am always overwhelmed with emotion because I have two young kids. I’m assuming that becoming a parent does this to us all.

Ashlee Hammac lost her infant son Ryan just five days after his birth on October 11, 2013. Ryan passed after suffering brain damage caused by oxygen deprivation when Ashlee’s placenta burst during labor—a condition called Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephlopathy. While baby Ryan’s parents surely mourn his loss, there’s more to the story: Ryan had a three-year-old brother named Tucker who will never get to know him.

Ashlee created a special tribute for baby Ryan to allow Tucker to connect with his younger brother. She built a sandbox on Ryan’s grave so Tucker can play and spend time with him. Ashlee shared the photo on Facebook of Tucker playing with cars in the sand in front of Ryan’s headstone:


Over the past week, the image has gone viral, drawing more than 173,000 ‘likes’ and just shy of 50,000 ‘shares.’

Ashlee revealed that she originally wanted to place glass pebbles around baby Ryan’s grave after the funeral. She decided to create a more interactive memorial site to help Tucker grieve and connect with his younger brother. Ashlee and her family have also started a nonprofit organization called Pages to Memories to bring awareness to the events that led to Ryan’s passing.

This story is beautiful, but I wish for this family’s sake that it didn’t have to take place. In my opinion, Ashlee seems like a selfless mother who is dealing with a terrible circumstance the best she can. Ashlee and her family also decided to donate Ryan’s healthy heart to another sick infant after his passing.

(Image: daughter/Shutterstock)