Category: Survival

How to Keep Your Angel’s Memory Alive

When I ask about a topic to write about, this comes up a lot! figuring out how to keep your angel’s memory alive is so important to our motherly instinct. Just because our child died, it DOES NOT mean they didn’t exist and can’t be remembered. It’s hard going day to day with a reminder that people go about their day as if a piece of the world is gone. It’s your duty as a mother or father to make sure the child’s memory is being protected. You ask, “How do I do that?”

Well, it’s sometimes rather difficult to imagine how to incorporate a missing person into a family event or even every day life, and that’s why I came up with this list. This list is what I do to keep my son Callan’s memory alive. At the bottom I’ll even add other suggestions that I’ve yet to do, but want to.  


Family photographs including a photo of your angel – Like the above photo, I had another heart mom take my photo with an actual framed photo of my son before he passed. We use this photo in almost every picture we take to include him in what we are doing now. All you need to do is, pick your favorite picture of your angel, have it printed to an 8×10, frame it, and then have someone hold the frame while everyone gathers around for the family picture. This will keep your child included in all of the photos that happen after his or her passing. 



Angelversaries – A lot of people do not know what an angelversary is, and that’s okay because I’m about to explain it to you. An angelversary is the anniversary of a death. So, Callan’s is February 11th, and every year we go out and set balloons free at his head stone. This date is the day you send messages, send things to heaven, and let the world know today you lost a piece of your heart.



Angel birthdays – Every birthday from after he passed until forever, I vowed to celebrate his birthday. I bake a superman cake and we go visit his head stone. We sometimes also do another balloon release. Today we celebrate a birthday that nobody acknowledges anymore. My son was born, and that day is still special, so I will forever celebrate the day he graced the world with his angelic presence. 



Yearly Christmas Stocking Stuffer – On Christmas, I usually will find a small stocking stuffer sized sock monkey and place it in his stocking to ensure that even though he isn’t here physically, he will still always be a part of the family. I’ve known people to also take the money they’d spend on their angel and use that for the Angel Tree donations. Another thing I’ve known other loss parents to do is, have a toy drive in their child’s name and donate to Toys for Tots or another local charity.



Have a memorial shelf – When Callan passed away, my husband and mother in law boxed all of Callan’s stuff away to help us move forward, but we kept out his favorite things, pictures, his beads, and pacifier. We placed those things on a shelf, along with his photo album, memory box, and soil we took from the grave site so a piece of his new home will always be with us. This shelf has helped me more than words can express because it’s like I have a physical spot to look at and know he was real. When everything else moves on, I have this one sacred spot to look at.



Memorial TattooI have two, so far, in memory of my son. I joke I’ll probably be fully tattooed in just tattoos for him. Tattoos, for me, are cathartic. There’s pain at first, but the permanence of the ink in memory of your angel validates they were real. It validates your thoughts, your grief, your tears, everything. Tattoos are a great way to keep your angel with your forever. I got Callan’s name and his exact EKG strip, one of his last heart beats that were recorded is on my skin. How much more real can one person get? The second tattoo I got is shared, Peter Pan for my son, and the moon for my daughter.



Butterfly Release – I’ve yet to do this, but I’m thinking of using this idea for Callan’s birthday this year. It’s safer for the environment, and to me, more symbolic than just balloons. Butterflies are a symbol for angels near by.



Paper Lanterns – You definitely have to check about burn bans, weather, and all sorts of stuff before doing this one, but I’d love to be able to have a full memorial service after dusk and float the lit paper lanterns to heaven. You’re supposed to be able to make wishes on them, and I’m a Disney fanatic, so I love the idea of tying in the beauty of Rapunzel’s light festival. It’s a beautiful and symbolic ceremony.


If you have anymore ideas on how to keep an angel’s memory alive, please share in the comments below. I’d love to hear your feedback! Also Follow me on Facebook and Pinterest


Lots of love,





Get up

Today, I am better than yesterday. Nothing in particular happened today, so far, but I slept last night.

This post is to motivate. Again, this is not a personal journal, but rather a collection of my thoughts, and dare I say wisdom; my hope is to reach the people who have been the mistress or the male version of a mistress of death.

If you’ve lost then you know how bad it sucks. It’s very much like someone punched through your sternum and pulled out your beating heart, might I add, with no anesthesia or pain meds. You can’t truly medicate the pain away.

My face is pretty broke out on my chin, my hair, well it’s a mop, I look sloppy, my right eye is teary, but I don’t care. The reason, much like my ugly post, is this, survival. Today I’m not feeling the pretty thing, at least right now I’m not.

Yesterday was a bad day. Today is better, but I still feel the pain of yesterday all throughout myself today.

This isn’t about my looks today, but rather my spirit, and yours.

It’s 6 months out from being 3 years since I’ve lost my son. I am fairing a lot better today than I was even a year ago, but I still have some crap days. If you are on this journey, then you absolutely know that the bad days are almost impossible to survive, but I’m here to tell you, you can do it!

This post is a motivational snack. Remember to breathe, look at a cute puppy, cry, breathe again, make yourself get out of bed, do something you like, and remind yourself that even though you’re having a sucky day, you can kick ass and take names.

You are tough. You are smart. You are amazing. Finally, you are inspiring.

Get up.

Love yourself.

Keep getting up.


Bucket List Series: Part one

What would you do to kill the bleak hole burning inside of you?

What would you be willing to pursue to find yourself again?

Who are you willing to become?

You don’t like the same things.

You roll your eyes at the people who you used to relate to most.

You’re lost.

You’re someone new.

You want a new direction.

You just don’t know where to go.



This is called growth. The person you were when you endured your loss is probably dead. You are now a lump of clay ready to be remolded into something wildly new and spectacular. You now have a wisdom that many others don’t. “Normal people” don’t have this close connection to the looming reality that is death. You probably have a deep appreciation for just how fragile and brief life is.


If you’re still nodding in agreement, then I just want to say,”ME TOO.”

I died the moment my son died. My soul felt gone. My sense of self was obliterated. I was a shell. If you’re a shell too, then keep reading.

What finally fulfilled me? What finally clicked? How long did it take? When did it finally make sense?

I FINALLY felt a sense of fulfillment when I looked at myself in the mirror and told myself I was going to follow through with my plans. Come hell or high water, I was going to impact others.

I really don’t remember the moment I decided I was going to go into Social Work, blog, and counsel, but I remember how I felt when it finally clicked. I was sitting on the bed, in front of my laptop, researching career choices; A monumental weight lifted off of my sternum and I could breathe. I realized it was time to take life by the reins again.

This was a HUGE step in realizing that I had to start working on my goals again, and from goals came my bucket list.

I was starved for content ideas, when last week I got giddy and started getting beyond excited! How do I engage my readers? By showing, not just telling my experiences. I wanted to inspire others like me to dust their butts off and get excited about life again.

Yes, loss is an enormous black hole, but it doesn’t mean you have to give yourself up forever. You can experience loss, and find your path, direction, and whole self again.

It’s possible.

It’s exciting.

It’s fun.

Join me in a journey to fulfill my list, and I encourage you to create a list of your own, and do it! I want you to feel a thirst for life again. I want you to begin living again. I don’t want you to forget the person you lost, but I want you to live like you know how fragile life is. I want you to have no regrets. I also want you to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Stay tuned for the first installment of “The Bucket List Series from Atoughmom”


Love Y’all,



A Better Ultimate Guide to Letting Go

You’re on the brink of a mental breakdown because it’s happened. People said it wouldn’t, but of course it did. They promised you wouldn’t have to go through this alone, but in all reality you do. Loss isn’t a road trip with your besties, top down, hair blowing in the wind, and music up loud during a summer day. Loss is a long train ride alone in the dark whilst you wait. Wait for what? Exactly. You don’t know what you’re waiting for, but you’re waiting for something; anything.

Loss isn’t a road trip with your besties, top down, hair blowing in the wind, and the music up loud during a summer day.

One of the worst things about the journey off loss is that inevitably you change, you grow twisted and bent, but you grow, and you grow apart from the people who you were closest to. You see it happening before your eyes, but you cannot change it. You might reach out, but if you beg for them to stay beside you then you run the risk of pushing them further away. I’ve learned recently, that the people closest to you before your journey are more than likely going to fall back after your loss. Why? I truly cannot explain why they go, but they do. Maybe they don’t want to make it worse. Maybe we can’t relate to them anymore so we become unapproachable to them. Maybe they were who we needed at that moment and then they weren’t anymore. We could maybe for hours, but it won’t change the fact that they left. Say it with me, “They left, but it’s okay.” How is it okay? Look at it this way, people part ways all of the time and some reconnect, and some don’t. You cannot hold someone hostage. All this would do is cause harm to you internally. You have to find it within yourself to accept the loss of this person and then move on. It might be a long walk through brimstone and fire, but if you can learn to accept that person chose to stop your relationship and actually move on then you’re on the way to fully letting go and really healing.

Letting go, two simple words with such impact. You have to realize that they are no longer a viable option when you need to cry something out. You have to realize they will no longer accept invitations to hang out together. You have to realize they might replace or even eradicate you from their life. They may sometimes say a quick something in passing, but really not want to reconnect. All of this you have to learn to accept, otherwise you’re torturing yourself and searching for answers. They either can’t deal with being around you or don’t want to. Set your mind straight and allow yourself the dignity to stop contacting them, stop asking them to hang out, don’t invite them, and allow yourself to find peace in moving on. Maybe one day you two can reconcile, but today you need to focus on you. Focus on mending your heart after the loss of someone who was there for you when you were dealing with loss yourself. Focus on moving forward and searching for new friends who can help you find the light in your new new normal. Allow yourself to feel the breakup, but also allow yourself to walk forward in grace. Losing one or multiple people during the grief cycle is a tremendous blow to your already broken heart, but it comes with the territory of tragic loss. Not everyone will stay, and not everyone will go, but for the ones who did bow out, love them for who they were when they were who you needed and gracefully walk with your head held high. You are going to make it through this storm like you made it through the others.