Say what you will about the Duggars. It’s all been said anyway. Say they have more children than they – or the world – can handle. Or that they’re turning their older kids into babysitters. Or that they’re publicity-hungry. Or devout to a fault. Or too conservative for comfort.
Say that their faith has led them to take too many risks. Despite Michelle‘s age (45), which increases her risk of pregnancy complications, she and husband Jim Bob don’t use birth control. Even the ordeal of having their last child born prematurely and with health problems hasn’t changed their stance.
Yes, say all this and more. But don’t even think of calling them anything less than courageous.
No matter what the circumstances, losing a baby is tragic. Wait, let me rephrase that. Losing a baby is a heartwrenching, life-shattering, black hole of grief that threatens to suck every molecule of happiness from your life. It doesn’t matter how many other children you have – when the doctor gives you that sympathetic-but-stoic look and delivers the unthinkable news, you grieve just as deeply if you’re a mother of none or of 19.
And when something this personal and horrible happens, it’s hard enough to break the news to your family. It might be a few days or weeks before you feel up to telling your friends. Then you keep the rest of the world out of the loop, holding your pain in a special corner of your soul as you try to resume your life.
The Duggars? They had to tell millions of total strangers – mere hours after learning that their baby had miscarried.
Imagine that. No sooner did Michelle and Jim Bob leave the OB’s office than they had to alert the very media that had been prepared to follow them right up to and past the headline “20 Kids and Counting!” They held back their tears long enough to tell People, “We had just been talking about baby names last night,” and reveal that they still plan to give the baby a name when they learn its gender.
Then they fought their exhaustion long enough to add this statement to their official website:
On behalf of the whole Duggar Family we would like to thank everyone for their prayers, emails and outpouring of love. We discovered during a routine 19-week ultrasound that our 20th child, who was due in April 2012, passed away recently. As our whole family is grieving, we also know that God promises to work all things for good in our lives. We rest in knowing, that even though our child has departed this life that we will one day see each other again in heaven.
Our prayer is that baby Duggar’s passing will help us all realize that this life is short, and our relationship with Jesus is the most important thing. He gives us a peace in our hearts as He guides us through whatever we might face.
We love you,
Jim Bob & Michelle Duggar & Family
Talk about handling heartache with grace. And whatever we all may think about the particular tenets of their faith, at least it’s helping keep them from sinking into complete despair. That’s not an easy thing to do when you’ve just found out that you’ll never hold your baby in your arms.
And their ordeal may not yet be over. Without getting into unpleasant details, let’s just say that a second-trimester miscarriage can require additional medical intervention. (If this had happened a week later, it would have been considered a stillbirth.) Not to mention the sorrow of planning the funeral service, which the family plans to do once the baby’s sex is known.
No, you don’t have to like the Duggars, their lifestyle or their decisions. I’ll be the first to say I disagree with them on a lot of issues myself. But before we all start the next round of criticizing and second-guessing, let’s give them credit for holding it together and carrying themselves with dignity when they’d much rather mourn their loss away from media speculation.
This news will pass. So will their reality show (eventually). But losing a pregnancy is something that will always stay with them.