Despite the stress and grief of the last few weeks – enduring the miscarriage of their baby, then naming the tiny girl and planning a memorial service – the Duggar family has continued to go public with the details of their loss. Maybe sharing their feelings helps them cope, or maybe they’re so used to having cameras and microphones following them that they don’t see the point in shutting themselves away now.
Parents Michelle and Jim Bob talked to People today about how they and their children are handling the loss of baby Jubilee Shalom. Michelle is doing her best to hold herself together as she offers comfort to the younger ones. Seven-year-old son Jackson, for instance, recently asked about the sister he will never meet.
“I told him there is going to be a day when we will be together again,” she says. “As the days go on, I know we will have time to talk through all this. I have been trying to hold my composure and do what I needed to do, and then be able to grieve.”
Also struggling is 20-year-old daughter Jill, an aspiring midwife who was tracking the baby’s heartbeat during her mom’s latest pregnancy.
Michelle recalled her daughter’s grief at last Wednesday’s memorial service, which was attended by hundreds of mourners and well-wishers. “I hugged her, and I said, ‘I am holding on, and I am going to let the tears go. We can pray, cry and grieve together in the weeks and days we walk through this.’ ”
In turn, the older Duggar girls are “mak[ing] Momma take care of Momma, and Jim Bob has been busy taking care of everything.”
But amidst their sorrow is an undertone of quiet defiance. In reaction to the controversy over the memorial photos of Jubilee’s tiny hands and feet – first tweeted by well-meaning cousin Amy, who was roundly criticized when the pictures were leaked to the media – the Duggars republished one of the pictures on their website. The underlying message: We find this beautiful and appropriate, so take that, haters.
The site also features an audio recording of a letter Michelle wrote to her baby, which was played at the church service. Along with her heartfelt sentiments of love are a few jabs at critics who have slammed the Duggars for the size of their family and questioned their ability to give quality attention to all the children.
“So often in our society, babies are looked upon as a problem, trial or responsibility. But God says babies are a blessing. We do not believe that babies are a bother, a headache, a financial drain or a career-interrupter. We love babies. Your siblings did not view you as the competition. They are truly saddened and disappointed to not have really known you.”
Michelle, who miscarried another baby early in her marriage, ends her letter with, “From now on, when I’m asked how many children I have, the answer will be ’21 – 19 here and two in heaven.
“You are precious to me, Jubilee. Mommy loves you.”
[Photo: Pacific Coast News]