For those of you who may not know who the Duggars are, they are the family who currently has 19 children, all by natural birth, and have their own reality TV show on TLC, 19 Kids and Counting.
Recently, the mom, Michelle miscarried. The way they handled the miscarriage was considered “controversial” by some reporters. Not by me. I was impressed having been through the experience myself and also having treated many couples who have experienced this loss.
Michelle and her husband Jim Bob posted photos on-line. One was of Michelle’s hand hanging on to the tiny hand of her child who died. There was also an audio message stating how much the child was loved. It was tasteful and moving, especially the part where she says she will miss her child’s heart beat, a statement of the reality of pregnancy and loss.
Of course, the criticism rolls in. The main argument is that this private moment should not be made public. I’m sorry, but they are reality TV stars who had to acknowledge the loss in some public way. This was tasteful and a model for other families. The loss of life by miscarriage is often minimized and can result in couples being stuck in grieving.
Because a woman is pregnant, her body has changed to accommodate that pregnancy. When miscarriage occurs, the physical, hormonal, emotional, relationship and spiritual experience is intense. Grieving the loss is a necessary step to move forward. Yet, I have counseled many couples who do not know how to handle the experience and grieve the loss. This can lead to depression and couple problems. With miscarriage, grieving is necessary. Part of mourning process may include some type of ritual like a ceremony, letter to the child, or photo (like the Duggars did).
Whether you agree with the Duggar’s Christian faith and decision to have 19 children is not the issue here. This family grieved well. They involved their children in the process and handled their grief in a healthy way. My hope is that this will serve as a model for others. The public nature of this gives permission to other couples to openly grieve and acknowledge the loss of a baby. And that is a good use of reality TV stardom.