Intoducing Sionnie!

We are so thrilled to introduce our new full-time Key Relations Manager, Sionnie Lafollette.

If you’re curious how to pronounce her name, it might help to know her first name is of Filipino origin and her last name is of French origin. The “Si” is more of a “Sh” sound, so Sionnie is pronounced Sho-nee.

Sionnie is an incredible woman and we are so excited for you to get to know her. She brings some valuable skills and talents to the Love Not Lost family, but more importantly, she brings a huge empathetic heart. With her permission, I want to share a piece of her cover letter here so you can see what I mean:

My formal education, professional experience, and personal journey have shaped a skill-set and created a resilient tenderness I believe would be a valuable contribution to Love Not Lost and the path forward. With an undergraduate degree in counseling, formal photography training, years experience managing teams, businesses, and now myself as a freelancer, I’ve developed a keen people-service sense, quick creative problem solving, a love of systems and efficiency, and am continually honing the remote work-life balance; I find it exciting to see how my aggregate-self align with the needs of Love Not Lost as outlined; I truly cannot recall another job description that made me as excited to show up, give, learn, and grow.

After three rounds of interviews, we were excited to invite her to join the Love Not Lost family. We’ve had some great training so far, including Sionnie joining us at our booth in the marketplace at Plywood’s ATL Ideas Festival at the beginning of the month. If you didn’t get to meet her there, don’t worry! We’ll have plenty of opportunities and events throughout the rest of the year (check out the events page).

Loving Better

We’re excited to have a full-time staff member that will double our capacity to love people better!

I want to leave you with Sionnie’s words she wrote for you…

Growing up in Southern California, I have collected a catalog of childhood memories that revolve around water; my heart feels an understanding of “home” when near the ocean, and often it becomes a metaphor by which I make sense of life. Grief has been no exception. Having lost my brother and two friends in my adult years, I have likened the process of grief to a rising and falling tide. At times, it has laid waste to my shores like a tsunami and other times it merely laps upon them quietly.

In the last few years, a personal photography project about loss became a cathartic space to continue to evolve within my own grief. In capturing and telling other’s stories of loss and remembrance, my hope has been to inspire conversations and connection around grief; with one another and with our own grief journeys.

Now, in stepping into the role as the Key Relations Manager, I’m excited to give, learn, grow and serve in the work and mission of Love Not Lost to celebrate lives and to revolutionize the way we grieve. Thank you for your collected effort and gifts that have made this next step of growth for Love Not Lost possible. I look forward to partnering with you, our Love Not Lost family and supporters, as we continue to strive to love people better. It truly is an honor.

Thank you for your support and love to get us to this huge milestone. Your gifts, connections, and support make a difference. We look forward to posting stories and more exciting developments soon!

Celebration, Grief, and Love

We’ve been silent on the blog because we’ve been busy caring for families, adding more photographer volunteers, developing new resources, building a new grief support program, and hosting a successful auction celebration (raising $50,000!). As a direct result of that, we have enough funding to bring on a full-time staff member to help serve the Love Not Lost community and grow our programming. We are currently taking applicants here.

With the addition of our full-time staff member and added bandwidth, we will be working to improve our communication and appreciate your patience during this growth spurt.

There is so much to celebrate - from serving 30 families in 2018 to our partnership with Northside Hospital, we accomplished a lot last year! We have already kicked off 2019 strong with the new support tools we’ve launched like our digital Love Better Support Tool and the development of a new corporate care program (more to come on that later).

But as true for most things in life, with the good, there’s sadness too. We’ve grieved with a number of families we have photographed as they have lost those they love. Outside of death, there is grief with any loss - even a job transition. In bringing on a new full time person, our budget does not allow us to keep Lindsey on part-time.

In the last year and a half, Lindsey has been a valuable team member and a part of our family. When she first interviewed, I could hear her excitement and drive to help Love Not Lost grow - and for the past year and a half, she’s done just that!


LNL Family

You may have met her at events, seen her name on thank-you cards and emails, or interacted with her in getting your year-end receipts. She’s helped our families, photographers, and partners with so much empathy and love. She’s kept me on track and has been a huge help with administrative tasks and building our systems. Lindsey is an incredible woman full of life, energy, and love.

She doesn’t like to be in the spotlight, but I wanted you all to know who has been a part of the heartbeat of Love Not Lost this past year and a half. We’re incredibly grateful for her.

(Photo from our Snapshots of Love event by the talented This Modern Love Photography)

When we had to say goodbye to Kristyn, our first Director of Operations, we were incredibly sad, but knew we would find an awesome person to grab the baton and carry our mission to the next zone. The same is true now.

We don’t know who the next person will be yet, but we do know that they will join into the heartbeat of Love Not Lost to carry out our mission of celebrating life, preserving memories, and supporting people in grief.

Thank you for your continued support as we grow. We will be in touch again soon!

A Tribute: Bravery for Avery


"My 5 yr old daughter was just diagnosed with DIPG, a terminal brain stem tumor. There is no cure. Average prognosis is 9-12 mos. We would love a photo sessions and book for our family, including her twin sister and little brother, to hold on to as we grieve."

Those words are powerful. Sitting in my inbox, holding so much weight, Emily reached out to Love Not Lost in December. My heart broke, as it does every time I read an application that comes through, and I knew we would make this session happen no matter the cost.

At the end of February, Avery was granted her Make-A-Wish trip to Disney and it was a great opportunity to capture some incredible moments. We were able to spend the day with them at LegoLand preserving memories together. It's a day I will never forget.

I was captivated by both Bekah and Avery, twins with so much love for each other. From the first ride on the double-decker merry-go-round, to the train rides, car rides, and boat rides that followed, all three kids were soaking up the fun and fully enjoying themselves. Of course we stopped for lunch and ice cream treats in the middle of it all, and had some laughs as the kids covered their hands and faces with sticky goodness.

Later in the day, as the kids were getting tired, we stopped to watch a water ski show and rest. Some popcorn and frozen pops helped get their energy back for some more fun before dinner. After dinner, I was able to go back to the Give Kids The World resort where we played games and had fun with other families until bedtime.

I wish I could've captured the whole week, but I had to get back for our 3rd Annual Auction Celebration on March 1. When I talked to Emily this month to share some updates with her, I was devastated to learn that Avery passed away on Mother's Day. I watched their video and cried at my desk for a good while. I know that pain. The emptiness and grief as your daughter leaves your arms for the last time is unbearable. "Be brave my heart. Have courage my soul."

Having spent time with the Neill family, I have no doubt they will be loved and cared for through this time. The facebook community through their Bravery for Avery page is amazing. They are surrounded by people who love and care for them. If that's you, I want to encourage you to show up. Even if it's donating to their DPIG fundraiser, taking care of their yard, offering to run errands, bringing them a meal or sending them gift certificates for gas, groceries, or restaurants... don't disappear. They will need you throughout this ENTIRE YEAR. Send cards, offer to help with the kids, pick up the phone and tell them you're thinking of them - whatever you can do, do it. We need to show up and love them well in their grief.

Today, as we celebrate Avery and Rebekah's 6th Birthday, we hold this family close. We hope these photos can bring some peace and comfort to all who loved Avery and joy to the family as they celebrate Bekah & Avery's Birthday today.

Thank you Neill Family for inviting us and trusting us to capture these memories for you. It was an incredible honor and privilege to spend the day with you. We love you all so much.

Thank you to all of the generous donors and supporters of Love Not Lost who made this trip possible. We don't ask the families we serve to pay anything, because they have enough expenses on their plates. Your financial contributions to Love Not Lost allow us to show up and love people well without having to worry about how we are going to make it happen.

You allowed us to say "Yes!" to the Neill family when they asked for help preserving memories and support through the grief. Every gift enables us to serve more families and we are so grateful for your help in making these memories possible. Thank you!

Our 3rd Annual Auction Event

I first want to apologize for being silent on the blog this year. We moved up our 3rd Annual Auction event from May to March, so after the end-of-year giving campaign, I went straight into event planning while continuing to run Love Not Lost.

On top of that, I ended up giving myself a concussion setting up for the event, which required me to take a 3-week break from screens. Thankfully, I was still able to photograph, train photographers, and attend meetings while recovering, but it definitely put me behind in book designs, emails, blog updates, and social media updates. I am finally getting caught up on everything, but the book designs took priority. Thank you for your patience!

Our 3rd Annual Auction Celebration was a huge success thanks to our wonderful guests, VIP table sponsors, and event sponsor, Kalon Creative. Kalon Creative builds modern, user-friendly websites and apps for startups, small businesses, and growing companies. They've been a corporate supporter for years and we are so grateful for Kalon Creative's continued support to help us carry out our mission.

The King Plow Arts Center was full of people who've been around since our launch, brand new faces learning about Love Not Lost for the first time, and every stage in between. As people entered the room, one of our Love Not Lost photographer volunteers, Patrick, took photos of our guests which have just been posted to our Love Not Lost Facebook page to easily share. We believe memories are important to capture and life is worth celebrating, whether you're facing a terminal diagnosis or not, so we're really glad people took advantage of the moment to freeze time. Go check out the Facebook gallery!

The room was full of music, conversation, and good times as the cocktails were flowing and all of the unique and fun silent auction items were out on display. Things like a team-autographed Atlanta Hawks basketball, Atlanta staycation packages, flight lessons, beautiful jewelry, a wine tour and tasting getaway, concert tickets, festival tickets, and many other great Atlanta items and experiences that add more to life were getting bid on by the minute. We even had people bidding from home, and if that was you, thank you for supporting us even if you coudln't be there in person! Chris Veal, one of Atlanta's favorite graffiti artists, joined us at the event to paint a beautiful skyline piece as people were enjoying the evening, which was later auctioned during the live portion of the night.

Thanks to Collection Event Furnishings, we had a cozy section of the room where albums were on display for people to enjoy while the cocktails were being sipped and the silent auction was gaining bids. As the cocktail hour drew to a close, we moved into the event room with the most delicious dinner from Bold Events Catering & Design. From fried chicken to braised short rib to honey glazed salmon, it was the type of food that soothes the soul. Every person I talk to from the event continues to bring up how amazing the food was and I have to agree - thanks Bold Events for a memorable meal! Our favorite DJ, Brian, aka "DJ Sires" from Amp'd Entertainment, kept the party going until the very end once again. We are so grateful to all the generous vendors who help make this possible!

During the the main program, I was able to share about the journey Love Not Lost has taken over the past two years and the vision for what's to come.  One of our applicants, Pam Collins, received her album that night and spoke about her experience with Love Not Lost and what it's meant to their family. Here's just a small piece of what Pam shared, 

When Georgia, from Circle of Friends, introduced me to Love Not Lost I was excited to apply for this opportunity. You get busy in your everyday life doing things for your parent and you forget to take pictures or don’t have your camera or phone ready to catch those special moments. To have a book made for you is a dream come true. Moments were created and captured with my Dad and family members that will be forever cherished and adored by all for years to come.

After hearing Pam share about her experience, we introduced our new grief empathy tools to empower and equip you - the greater community - to show up for the people in your life who are hurting. Everyone who attended got to go home with, the very first Love Not Lost support and empathy tools:

  • The 1st "Moore Love" Empathy Card
  • Gift A Session Certificate
  • "How Can I Love You?" Care Card
Photography for the event was graciously captured by  Molly Weir Photography.

Photography for the event was graciously captured by Molly Weir Photography.

These are coming soon on our website and we can't wait to get them into your hands too!

We are going to continue to develop resources to equip people to show up for their loved ones who are hurting as well as continue the growth of our photography program.

The week after the event, we held another photographer retreat and added five more photographer volunteers to our team! We also had our first meeting with the Northside Hospital Oncology leaders and have started partnering with their centers across the state to serve their stage 4 cancer patients. Our board of directors is also growing!

This wouldn't be possible without all of the awesome people who attended our event, those who gave generously to help us raise over $25,000, and our valued donors who have supported us throughout the year, especially those who give every month as our foundation builders.

Thank you for helping us grow to preserve memories for those facing a terminal diagnosis and supporting people in grief!

We are looking to host another photographer retreat this summer and will expand our partnerships as well. We have some more events planned throughout the year, so if you missed the event and still want to be involved, check our event page and follow us on social media @lovenotlostorg to stay in the know! If you're a fan of Love Not Lost, you can also be the first to know about things and have the inside look at what's going on by signing up for our newsletter.

Next year's event will be taking place on March 1, 2019 - so SAVE THE DATE!!! We hope you can join us for another incredible night to remember.



The Holidays Can Be Hard... Here's How You Can Help Those You Love

This time of year can be extremely hard for people who have lost loved ones. The world wants everyone to be happy and merry, yet it's important to recognize people who are hurting and bring comfort to those who need it. 

If you're facing the holidays with loved ones who are grieving, it can get awkward, but it doesn't have to! Grieving people are still people who just want to know they are loved and cared for like everyone else.


Here are seven tips to help you show up and love the people you care about:

1. Be honest and let them know you love them. Ask if there's anything you can do (or not do) before the festivities begin to support them in their grief. Then listen and respond. Open communication is important.

2. Try to create judgement-free zones where people can be themselves, whatever that looks like in that moment. 

3. Don't put expectations on people to be a certain way, especially expectations for someone to be happy if they're hurting. If someone seems sad, acknowledge it and ask them if they want to talk about it. 

4. Give them the option to have some alone time in the midst of everything. It's easy to want to fill up schedules, add distractions, or pack in family time. That's okay, but create the opportunity for them to get away by themselves if they need it. 

5. If there are tears, embrace them, and be generous with kindness. Let people know it's okay to cry with you and don't be afraid to give hugs.

6. Treat them normal with some added grace. 

7. Do what you can to bring authentic laughter and smiles - it's such good medicine for everyone! 

If you have stories of how loved ones really showed up for you during hard times, whether it's the holidays or another time where you really needed it, we would love to hear from you. You can either fill out our contact form or leave a comment - Thank you! 

Adkins Family in Atlanta

One question we often get is "How do you choose which families you serve?" and our answer is simple, "If they are facing a terminal diagnosis, we try to serve everyone." Our definition of terminal is this: a condition or disease that is incurable and will result in an early death. Sometimes people are unsure so they don't apply, but then there are people like Aisha, who wasn't sure if her mom would qualify, but applied anyway. 

Aisha's dad has already suffered multiple strokes and her mom has been diagnosed with a rare form of dementia called frontotemporal dementia, which typically affects people under 65 years old. Aisha is an only child and the primary caregiver for her mom:

In 2013, my mother was diagnosed with Frontotemporal Dementia, a rare form of dementia affecting approximately 10-20% of all dementia cases (according to the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration). Dementia is a disease that steals the very essence of the person you once knew, slowly replacing them with a veritable shell of their former selves until it finally takes their lives. My mother has always been a strong, talented woman with a big heart and charitable soul. These characteristics remain as her memory and other aspects begin to fade away. My father and I would be so grateful if we could capture my mother's sweetness and my parents' love (they are high school sweethearts and have been married for nearly 42 years) one last time. Thank you, Ashley, for your consideration and all you do to help so many hurting families heal through the art of photography.

Madison, one of our Love Not Lost photographers, joined me for this shoot. Now that we have multiple volunteer photographers, our local sessions will have two photographers for each shoot. With two LNL photographers, we're able to help each other out, whether it's moving equipment, rolling wheelchairs in and out of photos, making people laugh, or having an extra perspective - it makes a difference and we're so glad to be able to support each other. 

When Madison and I met Aisha and her parents, Ron and Rose, they were full of smiles and joy. We first stopped at a bench nestled in some ferns and pine trees, where Ron and Rose immediately cuddled up together. In fact, they were so in love, I didn't even need to give them direction on how to pose for photos. Their connection, which you'll see in the photos, was so evident, I asked them what their secret was. Being middle school sweethearts married 42 years has its challenges I am sure, but their answer was simple, "keep laughing... and choose to love every day." 

Ron, Rose, and Aisha were up for anything. Rose was in a wheelchair, but with Ron's help, she could stand for a few moments at a time for photos. We captured some beautiful family moments with all three of them, and then some special moments between Ron and Rose. When they were dating, Ron used to bring Rose her favorite cookies and chocolate milk to win her heart, so we were sure to capture an exchange of cookies during our session. We also looked through some old photos and shared memories as they reflected on their lives together. 

They are a strong, loving family and we had so much fun during our session! We hope you enjoy the memories we preserved for this incredible family.  

If you are interested in helping other families celebrate life and preserve memories, please consider becoming a monthly donor (even $5 per month makes a difference). Your gift helps us continue to provide free portrait sessions and give each family a beautiful hand-crafted photo album to carry on their legacy. Thank you!


Never Give Up, Texas

Over the past few days, I have watched in shock and horror as the water levels keep rising in Houston - the city I flew into less than two months ago for this session. It's hardly recognizable when I see images on the news. The wonderful woman who hosted me in her home has stayed safe and dry thus far, but many of her clients and friends have lost everything. The two families we served 30 minutes or so outside of Houston have also escaped the flood damage, but the Houston community is hurting.

As the death count continues to rise, grief sets in, and suffering ensues, we know there is a long road to recovering and rebuilding. When we feel helpless and feel compelled to give as a way of making an impact, but think that $10 or $20 doesn't feel like much of anything to give, please know that every dollar has a purpose and truly helps. Organizations like Preemptive Love, and other organizations (and more) who are on the ground actively helping others, need our support to keep doing what they do. Speaking as someone who runs a non-profit... without your money, we would not be able to do what we do. It matters. Please help support the people of Houston - give whatever you can to the people who need your resources to continue saving lives and supporting those in need. 

This session post was scheduled to be posted earlier this month, but we pushed it back to announce Kristyn's farewell... Then Harvey happened, and all eyes have been on Texas. We've been thinking about Texas too - not only hoping for the water to subside, but for love to pour out, for courage to rise up, and for hope to take root.

The Combs Family has been weathering their own storm and have been surrounded by love as they take courage and hold onto hope. Two years ago, Alyssa called me and told me her daughter had been diagnosed with SMA (Spinal Muscular Atrophy) type 1, like my daughter had. She was calling to get advice, to hear my story, and to talk about the scary stuff from one SMA mom to another. I was still in the paper work of filing for the 501c3 status for Love Not Lost, but mentioned it to her before we hung up.

Needless to say, I was thrilled to see her application come through! Not only was I excited to meet them, but I was surprised in the best way possible that they were able to get on a drug trial that helps fight SMA. It's not a cure, but the difference it makes is something I would call miraculous. The drug is now FDA approved, which is important, not just for other SMA kids, but for the child Alyssa is carrying as well. 

Alyssa and her husband have a healthy son, a daughter with SMA, and a third child on the way who will also have SMA. Their family mantra comes from the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation - Never Give Up.

We were happy to have extended family join us for the shoot and captured some really fun memories playing and laughing together. We hope these photos of love and joy bring some encouragement to your day.

When you are overwhelmed, exhausted, and feel like you just can't take any more, we hope you remember this family. We hope you remember Texas. We hope you never give up.