The unbearable grief of losing a child defies explanation. It crushes the soul and forever changes a parent’s life.
Christelle Le Baccon’s son Lexi died in a kitesurfing accident in November 2019. She has used her pain – and the cherished memories of Lexi – to help others by creating cuddle dolls donated to sick children in hospital or any child needing comfort.
“Lexi has always been a child who likes to help everyone,” says Christelle. “And he was always very caring and loving to people. These dolls are his legacy, a tribute to his spirit to make others happy.”
Christelle and her family collaborated with Australian artist Mulga to create a series of products, including keyrings, stickers, lanyards, candles and carry bags, made available on the website superlexlex.com. Each features a portrait of Lexi, with items such as the candles available in his favourite flavours – mango and vanilla.
All proceeds from their sale are used to create ‘Super LexLex’ dolls, hand-crocheted in Vietnam in Lexi’s likeness, which are donated to sick children who may need comfort and support. Every doll comes with clothes reflecting Lexi’s three favourite outfits – a nightgown, a wetsuit and a sports top and shorts – and a card explaining Lexi’s journey. The message begins with the words, “Thank you for inviting me into your world and giving me the opportunity to join your family.”
Christelle has donated 35 Super LexLex dolls to children with cancer in Randwick and Westmead children’s hospitals. Five have been sent to children overseas.
Christelle says the Super LexLex dolls, which are also for sale, are a tribute to Lexi’s love of helping others. “He was always very caring and loving to people,” she says. “He was never nasty or mocking of others, the way some kids can be.
“I remember, when Lexi passed, I asked one of his best friends, ‘Can you tell me one thing that Lexi taught you?’ And he said, ‘To be respectful of others and to help others.’ For a child aged 13 it's big because, at that age, they can be very cheeky and naughty.”
Helping find purpose in life
Creating the Super LexLex dolls, and working to help children in need, has given Christelle a purpose within her grief. “As a bereaved mother, you try your best to keep your child alive in some ways,” she says. “To see people carrying the dolls with them, getting comfort out of it, for me, it's what Lexi would have wanted me to do on his behalf.
“This is the continuum of his journey on earth even though it’s not in a physical form anymore. He can be there in the spiritual form and in the doll form.
“I need to find a way to feel good again. I will never be the same, but seeing a smile on a child who, because at that moment you give him something special, that makes me feel special, too.”
Christelle is also working towards helping other bereaved parents find support and compassion. She is seeking funding to make a documentary featuring interviews with parents whose children have died, to lessen taboos around the subject. She also aims to start a group for bereaved parents, to help build a network of people who can be there for one another.
“I want to help remove the guilt,” she says. “The grief you feel – it’s a very isolated journey. I need to bring awareness. I need to help other parents who perhaps don't have the strength to do it. Maybe this is my future.
“It is Lexi’s legacy, because he helped others.”