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When Christmas is a time of grief

Jenny Tiffen

Christmas Eve is probably THE most magical day to be a parent.

I love tucking my children into bed knowing the fun that I have in store of them. I stay up late baking while bopping around the kitchen to Christmas carols and drinking Baileys on ice.

I am almost bursting myself for the morning to come, just so I can see the sheer joy on my children’s faces, knowing that these happy childhood memories will be etched into our minds forever.

This is how Christmas is for me now, but there was one year where it was filled with absolute sorrow.

There was a time when Santa didn’t come to my baby even though ALL year I had been dreaming about how he would. I knew my baby wouldn’t really appreciate his first Christmas, but I thought Santa might bring him something token, maybe something practical. He might leave a giant box of Huggies under the tree along with a Matchbox car and a cute outfit to acknowledge his very first Christmas.

But no. Santa Claus didn’t get a chance to do that; because my baby had died. My baby died in September.

I was so looking forward to having a baby for Christmas. Being a parent for Christmas. Taking a cheesy family photo and printing it on a gazillion Christmas cards to send to all our friends. None of these things happened. Santa didn’t come and it was a very different Christmas to the one my husband and I had been dreaming of all year.

When an older person dies, we grieve their past. We have their memories. But when a young person dies, we grieve their future.

We might only have the hopes and dreams we had for them and very little memories of them to draw on at all. For me, it was important to create some memories for our baby boy. It helped me move forward. That year I bought a “Baby’s First Christmas 2005” tree decoration. It hurt deeply to buy it. It hurts to hang it up every year. But it is one of those deep therapeutic hurts that in a crazy way actually feels good.

I know there are people reading this that have lost a child. I know there are people reading this that have lost a child THIS year. I am writing this article for you. I want to tell you I am so sorry for your loss. I am so sorry for your pain. Life can be so unfair.

Santa hasn’t forgotten your baby. And you will never forget them either. All I can say, is that you get better at dealing with the hurt. If you know someone who is having their first Christmas without their baby this year, I urge you to get in touch. Send them a note, card or text letting them know you are thinking of them. I personally believe that acknowledging their sweet child is one of the best things you can do for grieving parents; and your relationship with them going forward.

This year at the SIDS and Kids Christmas Lights display in the Canberra CBD, we launched a Memorial Wall for all the children that are no longer with us. You can place a ribbon in memory of a child or a friend or family member that is grieving the loss of someone so special.

The entire community is affected by the death of a child. The Christmas Lights display is such an amazing way to get together with the community, to celebrate Christmas and to participate in a tribute to honor those who have passed too soon; while supporting those who are continuing to heal through tragedy.

I am proud to be a newly appointed ambassador for SIDS and Kids ACT. When I am sipping my Bailey’s on Christmas Eve this year, I will stop to ‘cheers’ all the children that Santa won’t be visiting, including of course, my very own.

Image of ‘Christmas tree and Christmas decorations‘ via Shutterstock


Jenny Tiffen

Jenny Tiffen is happily married with four healthy children. She dates her husband every Wednesday and blogs about it {and other stuff} at Jen is a pug-loving, cake-eating gym junkie and a lifelong Canberran who now lives on the internet. Follow Jenny on Instagram @love_wednesday More about the Author

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