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WATCH: Inverness mum experiences her first Christmas without her son after he tragically died in his sleep

By Annabelle Gauntlett

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The McKenzie family spending thier first Christmas together without Albie.
The McKenzie family spending thier first Christmas together without Albie.

As Inverness embraced the joyous spirit of the holiday season and prepared for the lively Hogmanay celebrations, one mother's experience stood in stark contrast, marked by a profound sense of loss and enduring grief.

This year, amid the twinkling lights and festive cheer, she faced the daunting reality of navigating through Christmas and Hogmanay without her beloved son, whose sudden and tragic departure has left an indelible void in her life.

Inverness mum Daisy McKenzie and husband Eoin were delighted to welcome their newborn son, Albie, into the world on April 13, 2022.

From the moment Albie was born, he became the family's pride and joy as he managed to light up every room he went into.

A fortnight after Albie's first birthday, the unthinkable turned the McKenzies' world upside down.

On April 27, 2023, Albie tragically died in his sleep due to sudden unexpected infant death (SUID).

After going through the traumatic ordeal of losing her youngest son, Daisy said it was particularly hard during the festive season.

She said: "I had braced myself to not want to do anything and to not feel any joy, but because the boys are still little and enjoyed it so much, I was able to push through.

"Albie was still very much a part of our day as he had a stocking and Santa brought him a little mouse teddy, and we had his pictures on the dining table where we were eating our lunch so we all raised a glass to him.

"It was on Boxing Day when everything had quietened down it hit me that my wee Albie wasn't here any more.

"I felt a lot of apprehension going into Christmas Day and on Boxing Day I just felt so surprised at how painful it was and how much I was actually struggling with it, because I didn't expect to feel that way."

Daisy and Eoin's two other sons opening gifts from Santa on Christmas Day.
Daisy and Eoin's two other sons opening gifts from Santa on Christmas Day.

Whilst this Christmas was incredibly challenging for Daisy and her family, something remarkable happened to her on Boxing Day in memory of her little boy.

She said: "I woke up the day after Boxing Day and I had dreamt of Albie for the first time, which was just so special.

"It was the most random dream, we were at the swimming pool and at the end of the dream I got to pick him up, I could feel his weight and he was smiling at me.

"I just think Albie had seen I was struggling so much, so paid me a visit in my dream."

Daisy has faced all kinds of challenges in recent months as a grieving mum, but she didn't expect Hogmanay to be one of them.

She said: "I was really struggling with going into a year where Albie wasn't going to be here.

"I was just so scared of midnight coming and I was somehow going to leave him behind and move on, even though I knew I wasn't going to, but it just seemed like that was what was going to happen because I would have to say my baby died last year."

After experiencing her first Christmas without Albie, she has advised grieving mothers 'to go with whatever feels right to you, whether that's crying or making a big Christmas dinner, just cope in what ever way you can.'

She said: "Be very gentle with yourself and take one day at a time, because I think the reason I was struggling with new year so much was because I was thinking of a whole year without Albie.

"I would advise people not to put too much expectation on yourself and don't plan too far ahead, just take it as it comes."

Since losing Albie, the family have become determined not to let themselves be paralysed by grief and, in an act of astonishing generosity aimed at helping others like them, by embarking on a major awareness drive on behalf of a charity that is now supporting them through the worst time imaginable.

Daisy now works closely with Held In Our Hearts, a baby loss charity, and continues her fundraising momentum into 2024 with numerous events already planned.

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