I didn’t think I was going to have to do this. And suddenly, I find that I must. I have seen numerous comments and opinions written about Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar’s photo of their daughter and now I must weigh in.
For those of you who don’t know (I didn’t know their names until recently) Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar are the parents of 19 (21 if you count accurately and include the 2 babies they lost) children and the focus of the reality show “19 kids and counting” (or something like that? I’ve never seen the show.) They recently lost their 21st child in Michelle’s second trimester, what some call a miscarriage, and others, a stillbirth. The family decided to have photos taken of their daughter, and proceeded to post them to their FB and Twitter accounts. The one I saw was beautiful. They were holding tiny Jubilee’s feet with the words “No footprints are too small to leave an impression.” (I might be paraphrasing – it was something like that.) And it was precious.
Since that time people have felt it their responsibility to announce that the photos were distasteful, inappropriate, disgusting, and as I read this morning…a publicity stunt. People have said things to the effect of “They have 19 kids. They didn’t need to do this. They shouldn’t have posted those pictures. Obviously, it is for publicity.” That, my dear readers, is what made me so angry this morning that I decided I had to write as well, for whatever it is worth! Who in the world are other people to tell them how to grieve? Who in the world are other people to offer up their opinions about how a family should honor the life they lost? Obviously, these people with all the opinions have never lost a baby. Excuse my language, but WTF? Yes, they have 19 blessings to be grateful for, but that does not take away from the fact they lost THIS baby. Are they supposed to not acknowledge a new life, simply because they already have many? Jubilee Shalom Duggar was a being who for whatever reason chose to be here for a very short time. It is only right to honor her, and her family can honor her in whatever way they wish. Good for them for taking those photos.
I have lost two babies. And it was exactly these kinds of attitudes from society that prompted me to write a book to guide women through the grief after pregnancy loss. Our culture is death-denying – we are told to package it up in little box inside ourselves and put it away somewhere, so as not to upset the normalcy of life. Well, death is a part of life, and the death of a baby is a particular sort of pain that perhaps only those who have gone through it know how intense and awful it can be. I wrote my book in hopes that a) it helps other women through a lonely grieving process and b) that it opens up some dialogue about this topic. Pregnancy loss happens so very often – yet there are hardly words available to discuss it. I, for one, applaud the Duggars for making their grief public. Our society would benefit from pausing and taking time out to actually feel.
My book, There Was Supposed to be a Baby: A Guide to Healing after Pregnancy Loss should be available this summer. In the meantime, if you’d like to be updated on it’s progress, you can “like” it on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pages/There-Was-Supposed-to-Be-a-Baby/282466868455843 . There will soon be a website, blog, and Twitter (Yes…Twitter…not my thing, but oh well!) account as well. At times I have wondered if all the hard work involved in creating this book is worth it – and then I read jackass comments that this family shouldn’t be making such a big deal out of their miscarriage, and I realize just how important it is. It is important for grieving families, essential that our culture start to recognize the very real pain of pregnancy loss, and only right that we honor these tiny beings who come into our world and leave too quickly.
Duggar family, if you are for some reason reading this, thank you. I hope more people take your lead and share their grief.
Whew. I feel much better getting that off my chest. And now, may I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyful Solstice, Happy Kwanzaa, Joyous Festivus, and a Blessed New Year (and anything else you might celebrate)! Enjoy the beauty of the season, however you may celebrate.