Surviving is not Living

Weighing in on the Duggars

with 2 comments

There has been a lot of talk about the Duggar family lately, from becoming pregnant with their 20th child, to Michelle’s miscarriage, and their decision to take photographs of their daughter.  Let me just tell you, I’m tired of all the talk. This family has put themselves in the public eye, and I realize that means it opens them up to be talked about. But once again I am reminded that people oftentimes don’t think before they speak, and that many people have no filter, no concept that a public figure they are speaking about is an actual real person with human feelings and emotions. I think that’s the first lesson we should remember; “Famous” people are still people.

My opinion of the Duggar family isn’t that extensive. I don’t watch the show. I don’t know much about them, and I tend to, as a rule, not make opinions about things I don’t know of. How I wish more people followed that rule in their own lives. The one thing I have thought, and stated on one page that referenced Michelle and her miscarriage, is that I worry about her health these days. I would hate for something to happen to Michelle and for her to miss the chance to see her children grow up and her grandchildren born. That would make me very sad for that family. I don’t know much about the family but it is my understanding that they believe God will give them as many kids as He wants and will stop them from conceiving when He decides it’s time. I don’t personally agree with that belief, and I think it’s a dangerous belief to have. But that’s as far as I go with my opinion.

But it seems that everyone else has so many more opinions about this family, about how many kids someone should have, about their miscarriage being for the best, and about their decision to take photographs and share the photographs. There’s a bunch of people talking who have never experienced the loss of a child, and I think it’s about time people keep their opinions to themselves.

I remember the bereavement counselor coming into my room during my labor and telling me about Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep.

(Clicking the image will take you to the About Us page of their website. There are no images on that page. If you navigate the site, you will see examples of the photography they provide. If these images will be distressing to you, don’t navigate out of the About page)


I remember at the time being disturbed that they would ask if I wanted pictures of my dead son. Why would I want them?  Every day since that moment I am so thankful that I said yes. Once my son was born and I left the hospital, I had already started to forget his precious face. With the gift that my photographer Scott gave me, I will never forget Damien’s face. I can look and see he has my face. I can remember. NILDMTS provided a priceless gift for me. I could never thank them enough.

There are many people who have never walked this road, and I respect that they don’t know what it is to grieve such a huge loss. I know there would be questions about why certain choices are made. What I don’t understand is why people take it upon themselves to judge how others grieve. I don’t understand why people think it’s their place to say hurtful things. I know that nobody knows the right thing to say when a baby dies. Let me let you off the hook, there’s nothing you can say. There’s no magic words. There are, though, a lot of things you can say that aren’t helpful. Please don’t preach to the family. Don’t tell them it was God’s plan. Don’t say God needed another angel. Don’t philosophize about why it happened or guess that maybe it was best and that there could have been something “wrong” with the baby. I think I could safely say most if not all mothers would rather have a special needs child they can hold in their arms than a baby they never got to know.  Regardless of what your faith is and what theirs is, don’t try to answer for why this happened. Just don’t. It’s not helpful. If they bring it up, then that’s a different story, but don’t insert yourself into that place without their permission.

What can you say? You can say you are sorry for their loss. You can say I love you. You can say you miss the baby/or you’re sorry you never got to know the baby. And if, IF you really really mean it, you can say that if they ever need anything that they can call. But if you’re not okay with being woken up at 3 am to a crying friend, ridden with anxiety and grief, don’t say to call if they need anything. Only say it if you mean it.

I’m tired of people pretending they know. “Well it was only a miscarriage”. “Oh, so your son didn’t actually die, you just lost a pregnancy.” “It’s wrong to grieve that way.” “Wasn’t that a year ago? You’re still dealing with it? Should you talk to someone?” “It’s for the best.”

I’ve heard some of those things about the Duggars. I’ve heard some of those things about me and my son. I’ve heard those things said to others. It’s hurtful, no matter who it’s said to or about, it hurts me to know that people are willing to say such hurtful things.  I think we can all do a better job at being sensitive to others’ pain.

Written by others:

Why did the Duggars photograph a stillborn baby?

Precious Photographs: An Open Letter to Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar




Written by No More Tomorrows

December 20, 2011 at 10:43 am

Posted in Baby Loss, Grief

2 Responses

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  1. My sister-in-law’s baby was almost 10 months old when she passed away. They had been waiting for it to happen for around 5 months. It didn’t make anything easier. The family fought with how long to keep her on life support. Death is never easy.
    After she quit breathing, my sil held her for hours. We all have photos of her from that day and from the funeral.


    December 20, 2011 at 11:10 am

    • I’m so sorry about your family’s loss. I wish these stories didn’t exist. It makes me sad that any other mother knows what it is to hold her lifeless child. We all grieve how we grieve. I don’t regret anything that I did. It is what I didn’t do that still weighs on my heart.

      Carrie @ No More Tomorrows

      December 20, 2011 at 11:16 am

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