Mother Builds Sandbox Near Child's Grave, Enables Son to Play with Late Brother

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Warning: the following story is pretty much guaranteed to make you cry.

In October, Ashlee Hammac suffered a parent's worst nightmare when her five-day old son, Ryan, died of a brain dysfunction known as Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephlopathy.

To help her other son, three-year old Tucker, remember his brother and pay tribute to him, Ashlee constructed a sandbox directly next to Ryan's grave.

A photo of Tucker playing alongside his late sibling's tombstone has gone viral on Facebook.

Cemetery Sandbox

"The more I thought about it, the more I wanted something my other son Tucker could be incorporated in," Hammac told People. "He always goes out there with me, and sits out there, and sings lullabies, and talks to him just like he was there.

"So I wanted it to be special for him too. His favorite thing right now is trucks."

Hammac says Tucker often ass if he can go to "baby Ryan's sandbox." 

In the months since Ryan's death, Hammac has worked to keep her son's spirit alive via Pages to Memories, a nonprofit that donates books and blankets to NICUs so families can connect with their sick kids.

"I wanted to help. I wanted other people, because I know it wasn't just me, to have someone to talk to…to have a place they could depend on," Hammac says. "And I wanted to feel like Ryan was helping still, because in those five days he changed our family so much." 

Ashlee and her husband also donated Ryan's healthy heart to save the life of another baby and Hammac hopes to meet the other mom someday.


I cannot see the point of it. This is something that makes the life harder. I would not do to my child.

@ Bleamy

It's disturbing .... Right decision ? Only for the family to decide. Awful situation


Hammac says Tucker often ass if he can go to "baby Ryan's sandbox." Might want to change ass to ask to make the story sound a little nicer.


Sorry for ur loss I think its great what you did for ur son.


Is the date wrong?I thought he was 5 years old?

@ ruk claro

Oh my bad sorry"(


I think it great what you did, and it helps with the grief process. I know. I lost my 25 yr old son in 2007. BUT I went to court for visitation with his son, and the court denied it because they said i was talking too much about the child's father and it wasn't healthy for the child. Also, that I shouldn't take him to the gravesite on Fathers Day. Fucked up system.

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