All of Us


I Have a Mother...

Photo credit: Bahareh Bisheh – My Chalky World

Through the engagement on social media, and the post on this blog that’s been read by more than 1 million of you, we’ve learned that not all the motherless and fatherless children who benefit from our program and awareness are younger than 18 years old.

Some who have lost a parent are in college, navigating the transition into true adulthood. We’ve heard from many in the early phases of careers, marriages, parenthood. Those of you are navigating what Kelly Corrigan calls The Middle Place of raising children and caregiving parents. Others are facing an empty nest, trying to figure out what’s next. Sadly, some have had additional losses compound their grief.

Despite our age, we remain motherless and fatherless children and we wonder if they are proud of us, let’s give them reason to be. Let’s heal ourselves, together, by helping others. 

  • If you are nearby, join us at the 12th “Race for Traditions“on April 3oth  – or create a team in honor of a mom or dad.
  • Run with us from a distance One Tough Mother Runner – a virtual race!
  • Simply make a donation of $10 for every child in YOUR household to support the collective children in our program.
  • Participate in the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) #56164
  • Donate through United Way – #12502 

No child should grieve alone. 

Blink of an eye


Helping is healing. Family Lives On needs your help to continue. April is a month of renewal and a focus on raising the funds we need to support the children, teens and families in our program.


Tradition Tuesday – Definition of Tradition


Thank you trio 10-27

Tradition: The transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on in this way.

Dear Family Lives On,
Where do I even begin in telling you how blessed and grateful we all are to you? I guess I can begin with why your amazing organization will forever hold a special place in our hearts. 

In 2013, the most shocking, unimaginable tragedy happened to our family. To lose my husband, the father of my children, so unexpectedly, at such a young age, tore a hole through us that will never close. As I tried to hang on by a thread, I asked myself “How am I going to function daily for myself, much less my children? How am I going to hold on to what memories we had of him and keep moving forward?” 

The month before my husband’s 2 year death anniversary I began reading and searching online for help with our family’s situation- something that could guide me or give me support in coping with our tragedy. It was during this search where I stumbled upon the Family Lives On Foundation. I began reading about the foundation and smiling at the stories on your website. For the first time I felt a bit of happiness creep back into my heart. To be able to carry on my husband’s Traditions through our children- what an amazing experience! 

I decided to take the first steps in applying. I was extremely terrified to do this, to be open about our situation to complete strangers, to hear the kids speak of stories of their dad, it still seemed so surreal that any of this even happened. But with a wounded heart and a small glimpse of hope, I decided to move forward and apply for your Tradition Program. This was by far the best decision I could have made. 

Watching my children Skype with your staff and hearing them talk about wonderful times with their dad, seeing them smile, laugh, and shed a few tears, watching them get so excited about receiving their packages and watching them smile from ear to ear as they opened them, made me realize that my husband left behind one of the most precious gifts he could have left- his Traditions.

Thank you Isis and the Family Lives On Foundation for making all of this possible. For realizing that although the death of a parent can leave an enormous gaping hole in the heart of a child, a gaping hole that will remain there forever, that there is still room to experience moments of happiness and joy, and to keep celebrating the life and Traditions of our loved one. 

And thank you to my remarkable husband Mike. Thank you for the trips to the zoo, the summers at the river, the BBQ’s at home, and the weekend adventures to the movies and the park. Thank you for always keeping us a family and for instilling in us these family Traditions. Because of you and the Traditions and memories we made together, we can now keep them going and pass them on and forever keep your memory alive.
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Support the Tradition Program

Family Lives On Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The Tradition Program is entirely funded through charitable donations.  If you would like to help support the grieving children and families we serve, please donate here.

To learn more about the Tradition Program, please use this link.

More Than an Endless Bread Basket

Dinner “out” for special occasions is often a family tradition. For children who have lost a parent, continuing family rituals fosters lifelong emotional wellbeing. One family’s annual holiday tradition involves their local Olive Garden restaurant.


A few years ago, the family (a single mom and her seven children) began the tradition with the Olive Garden on Chestnut Street in Philadelphia. With such a large family on a modest budget, going out to dinner was a big deal. They would huddle in a big booth for the occasion, excited to be out to dinner with each other. Following dinner, they would stroll through the nearby Christmas Village and admire the light display at City Hall. On the way home, they would drive down two particular streets known to have magnificently over-the-top holiday decorations and “ooooh and ahhh” appropriately.

Since that mom lost her battle with cancer a few years ago, Family Lives On Foundation has made it possible for this tradition to continue. We hire a van to pick up the kids from the three different foster homes they now live in. The van transports them and three foster parents to that same Olive Garden on Chestnut Street. The Olive Garden generously reserves the booth and provides the meal, free of charge. Following the meal, they visit The Christmas Village, City Hall and the same two streets with spectacular displays before being dropped off at their separate homes.

For the past three years, these traditions facilitated by Family Lives On are some of the few times all of the children have been together as a family.

This tradition will be fulfilled every year until the youngest child turns 18. A continuing emotional bond to their deceased parent is a clinically identified need for the healthy bereavement of children and teens who have experienced the profound loss of the death of a parent. We’re proud to be able to bring together the seven siblings every year around the holidays and we are grateful for Olive Garden’s hospitality.

In the United States, more than 2 million children and teens are grieving the death of a parent. One in 20 children experiences this loss before the age of 16—that’s one in every classroom and two on every school bus.

Family Lives On’s “Tradition Program” serves as a therapeutic tool that enables children to move from survivors to thrivers and from “at risk” to “at promise.” Based on research and experience, Family Lives On understands that family rituals can be used to provide structure and routine to the chaos of life impaired by loss. Traditions provide a more natural context for young people to talk about the person who has passed away.

By: Christine Cavalieri, Executive Director, Family Lives On

Family Lives On Foundation supports the lifelong emotional well-being of children whose mother or father has died. Our Tradition Program provides opportunities for intentional remembering, creating a safe haven for grief, communication, and celebration. To enroll in the program as a family in need, donate, volunteer or for more information visit the Family Lives On Foundation website or Facebook Page or follow us @familyliveson Twitter Account or @familyliveson Instagram. To check out our 30-second PSA click here:The Family Lives On PB & J PSA.

Brandon’s Weekend in Wildwood New Jersey- May, 2014 Honoring his Father.

Honoring the Past.

Brandon at one of his father's favorite restaurants.

Brandon at one of his father’s favorite restaurants.


Brandon was one of the first children in our Daddy’s Light Pilot Program. His father, Steve, died in August of 2012 from esophageal cancer. Family Lives On Volunteers interviewed Brandon in January 2013, when he was 14, and he chose to continue visiting Wildwood, NJ as his tradition.

Wildwood New Jersey, Early in the Season.

Wildwood New Jersey, Early in the Season.

His father loved Wildwood and they would take a long weekend there almost every year- they usually went in May before it got too busy. They always stayed at the Acacia Beachfront Motel in Wildwood Crest.

Dad's Favorite Hotel, The Acacia where they stay every year.

Dad’s Favorite Hotel, The Acacia where they stay every year.


Dad’s favorite restaurants were Urie’s and Duffy’s, and he would always let Brandon play as much as he wanted at the arcade.

Brandon, Playing Arcade Games...All he wants.

Brandon, Playing Arcade Games…All he wants.

Brandon’s Mom said in an email recently, “I just wanted to share some photos from Brandon’s tradition weekend in Wildwood Crest NJ. We had a nice time away while continuing the tradition that we had with Steve ❤

Thank you all SO much!”

wwc 20149

Family Lives On will continue to help Brandon celebrate his Wildwood New Jersey tradition in his father’s honor, every year until he is 18.

To help more children like Brandon, by donating click here  or click on the  “Donate” button on Family Lives On’s Facebook Page.

To enroll your family in the free tradition fufillment program click here:  or go to the Family Lives On Facebook page and click the ”Enroll in the Program” button.

To volunteer with Family Lives On click here, or email Isis, FLO Program Manager at


 “I Miss My Mom Most When I’m Down and Lonely.”

Honoring the Past.


Max Ready to Plant a Garden in Honor of His Mother Who Died in 2001

Max Ready to Plant a Garden in Honor of His Mother Who Died in 2001

“In 2001, my sister and I lost our mom in a battle to breast cancer. Ten years ago I was just a little boy, only 8 years old. Before she died, my family tried to prepare me for a life without her. I was scared, and never wanted to talk about my mom, I can honestly say that talking about her is still hard for me. Then Mommy’s Light (Family Lives On) came along. They were able to sit down and get to know me and my mom together and see just how much I loved her.

Planting in the garden was something I used to do with my mom before she got sick, I loved digging the holes for her. Now every day when I go outside I see a beautiful garden and instantly think of her.

Max and His Mom

Max and His Mom

Mommy’s Light (Family Lives On) is very special to me in many ways. Growing up I was never able to talk about my mom because I was not comfortable. Although I tried, I didn’t think that anyone would understand how I feel about her or how much I miss her. With the loss of my mom I have gained many things in life.


I have enjoyed watching my younger sister grow up into a nice young lady, who reminds me of my mom in every way. And I also have this beautiful garden, which really helps me think of her.”

Max & Madison Gardening Tradition

Max & Madison
Gardening Tradition

~ Max Card

Excerpts from a speech that Max presented for the Hearts for Megan Event in 2011. This Year’s Hearts for Megan Event will be on May 10th at Life’s Patina. For more information about the Hearts for Megan Event click here.

Max at Hearts For Megan in 2011 with His Dad and Sister Madison

Max at Hearts For Megan in 2011 with His Dad and Sister Madison

The Cards were the first family to receive our services. Mom Michele was still alive during our initial interview in April 2000. Michele lost her battle with cancer and died in March 2001. Her two children, Max  and Madison, asked us to help them continue a gardening tradition each mother’s day. Michele loved to garden and the kids always helped out.

Max graduated from our program in 2011, and Madison still receives her gardening tradition each year before Mother’s day.

For more information or to donate to Family Lives On Foundation in order for us to serve more children like Max and Madison go to our website or contact our Director of Development, Kelly Becker at 610-458-1690.


Honoring the Past.


Story Corner: Traditions


Chelsea and Shane’s mother died in 2003. Chelsea’s favorite memory with her mother was visiting Ocean City, NJ. The family would go to Wonderland Pier & Castaway Cove, and eat at  mom’s favorite places- Uncle Bill’s Pancake House and Mac &  Manco’s Pizza. They would always stay at the Pier 4 Hotel in a bayside room. At night, they would play a fun game that mom made up just for them– seeing who could throw ice cubes the farthest off the balcony, scoring points for each throw.  Whoever could hit the bay would score the most points!  Below are pictures of Chelsea and Shane celebrating their traditions over the years. We love to watch them grow and smile while remembering their mom. 

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Shane’s favorite memory with his mother was going to Hershey Park and staying at the Hershey Hotel during the holidays. Their mother would schedule a breakfast with Santa Claus at the hotel, and Shane remembered writing his list for   Santa ahead of time so that he could give it to him in person. They would then see the  Holiday Musical at the Hershey Lodge and visit  Candylane (the special exhibit in Hershey Park for the holidays).

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 Both Chelsea and Shane have graduated from the program.


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For more information on our program go to or email our Program Manager at