In November, to the surprise of many, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar announced that the couple's 20th child was on the way. As the Blaze reported, they encountered a fair amount of criticism, considering the large size of their family, past complications and Michelle's age (she's 45).
Sadly, just one month later, the Duggars told the world that they suffered a miscarriage. On December 8, during a 19-week checkup, it was discovered that the child no longer had a heartbeat; Michelle miscarried naturally three days later.
This week, the stars of TLC's "19 and Counting" held a ceremony for the child, whom they named Jubilee Shalom (she allegedly weighed just 4 oz. and was 6 c.m.), in Springdale, Arkansas. Friends and family converged to help celebrate the life that would have been.
The ceremony apparently included hundreds of attendees. While some might see the family's actions as a bit odd, others would revere the notion that they valued the life so preciously that they sought to commemorate it.
Following the event, Amy Duggar, the family's cousin, created a stir when she tweeted a note and picture commemorating Jubilee's life (she later deleted the message). It read, "RIP precious Jubilee Shalom Duggar! Can't wait to meet you someday, thank you Lord for giving our family peace." Mail Online has more:
The photograph shows Michelle reaching out to touch daughter Jubilee's tiny hand, with the juxtaposition of size deeply moving.
While Michelle obviously displays a fully grown adult hand, Jubilee's is incredibly tiny, with her palm half the size of her mother's finger tip. [...]
At the ceremony, a selection of photos - which some might find distressing - were distributed to guests, with one image showing Jubilee's tiny feet on Michelle's hand, with the message: 'There is no foot too small that it cannot leave an imprint on this world.'
A representative for the family has purportedly defended the photos, saying they were never intended to reach the public (although one of the images is now on the family's web site). Also, Michelle released an audio letter to the baby, which can be heard below:
The Daily Beast's Maria Elena Fernandez has more regarding the negative response that has followed these actions:
“It just seems too public and almost seems like, ‘OK, we’re stars, everybody wants to know abut us,’” said Susan Newman, a social psychologist who has taken the Duggars to task for continuing to procreate in two columns forPsychology Today. “From what I know of parents who have lost children, it’s horrific. It’s not something you want pictures of. There are people who will argue with me and say it’s a way of coming to terms with the death. But given the Duggars’ history, their television show, and the way they exploit their children, I just find this a cog in the same wheel. I find it rather distasteful.” [...]
But the cofounder of the nonprofit organization that photographed the stillborn baby at the Duggars’ request said that thousands of grieving parents have turned to the group for its free services, because the photographs help to console them during the worst time of their lives. Cheryl Haggard, who had a son who died after birth because of a condition that went undetected during pregnancy, cofounded Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep with a photographer she hired.
You can read more about the debate here. Regardless of how one feels about the family's method of handling the loss, suffering a miscarriage is certainly tragic.
Michelle has understandably said that she feels "a great sorrow and grief" though she has peace in her heard. Jim has expressed similar feelings, saying, "we know we will see this child in heaven one day."
(H/T: Mail Online)