Happiness after loss: A very special Christmas for the Tongi family

This holiday season, Vaioleti Tongi and her husband Tom will be celebrating having their very first Christmas with their four-month-old daughter, Teuila.

The joy and happiness that awaits them is a complete contrast from what they experienced last Christmas, when the couple were grieving the death of their son Siosifa. He was still born after he died in Vaioleti’s womb eight days before she delivered him and three months before Christmas.

Vaioleti, who is originally from Samoa, and her Tongan husband were so distraught about losing their first child, they spent the night sleeping by his gravesite on Christmas Day.

“Last Christmas was full of sadness for us because we were still experiencing the early stages of grief. We wanted to feel joy and happiness and we found that by being by our son at the cemetery.”

Vaioleti first spoke about her traumatic experience in October, when she shared her story with the Pasifika Medical Association (PMA) during Baby Loss Awareness week. Many of our social media followers resonated with the Auckland mother’s story and shared their support.  

Three months after the stillbirth, she found out she was pregnant again with Teuila. This season will be the Auckland family’s first Christmas celebration together.   

“We know that by having our daughter with us, our son is also here. Our joy and happiness come from being at home together as a family.”

Vaioleti says that Christmas time can be emotionally hard for parents who have experienced the loss of a baby. But she says it’s the support from family that has helped her overcome her grief.

“Our families play a huge part in not forgetting. Our son will always be remembered. Our family still buy gifts for him, like little decorations with his name engraved on it that we can put on his grave. It reminds us that we have two children, not just one.

I’m a very spiritual person and one thing that I keep telling myself is that my son is very lucky. He gets to celebrate Christmas with the birthday boy himself, up in heaven.”

For more information on Sands, the support group for parents who experience the loss of a baby, visit – www.sands.org.nz.


Date: Wednesday 23 December 2020