There seem to be a lot of strong feelings about the Duggars and their big family. Regardless of how folks feel about them, I strongly feel that by being open about this pregnancy loss, Michelle Duggar is really doing a big favor for woman who might experience a loss like this in the future. When I suffered a still birth in 2002 it was very difficult to find information on how this should be handled, what I should do and what was expected. At the very least, by sharing her private pain with us, Michelle Duggar is setting a template for others to follow. Here are 5 things that other moms in the same situation might find helpful.
1. Miscarrying normally. Michelle Duggar did not undergo a D&C or medical removal of her child. By allowing her body to work naturally she gave herself more time to accept what had happen and prepare for the end of the pregnancy. In 2002 I did the same thing and I think it was actually less traumatic for my body than if I had gone in to be induced. The word "casket" means bearer of precious goods. When the baby has died inside of the mother but has not yet been born the mother is bearing her precious baby. This is a special time for her to love and care for the baby's body before it is no longer hers. If there is no medical reason for hurrying the delivery, a natural birth is a good gentle way to transition from expecting to give birth to accepting a loss.
2. Naming the baby. It was announced that the Duggar baby's name is Jubilee Shalom. Naming the baby is one of the first things parents do for their children. With a dead baby it is one of the few ways that we get to be a parent. Naming the baby also is a way of expressing love and it makes a statement in a very simple way that the child was loved.
3. Having a service for the baby. Pregnancy for a Christian is in some aspects a community event. Our family and friends anticipate the new baby with us. That loss is a loss for everyone. Having a service gives everyone a chance to say good bye. The support of community is also very healing for the parents. I have some very fond memories of the very nice things people did for me at the funeral and luncheon when my baby died. Those memories brighten up that very dark and sad time.
4. Burying the baby. Having a grave site to come to to cry, remember, decorate, and care for can be very cathartic. I have enjoyed my hundreds of trips to the cemetery over the past 9 years and I have met a lot of other grieving parents over the years there too. But I have found that even parents who don't visit the grave site regularly feel a comfort in knowing that one exists and that they could visit if they wanted to. Knowing where that child's earthly remains are is it's own comfort in some way.
5. Keeping the other children involved. As usual, this chapter in their life will include the whole family. The older children have already been caring for their mom, and all of the kids will be involved with the funeral. It is a time of sadness, but for Christians it is also a time of hope and remembrance. If handled correctly children can get through this time unscathed. My own children remember having fun at their little brother's funeral luncheon and my daughter thought of it as a birthday party of sorts.
6. Rest and grieve. One of the things we do really badly in this culture is grieve. We bury, cremate and commemorate and then move on. There is not a season of grief and there is a sense that one should just get on with it. By retiring to her home and resting, Mrs. Duggar has shown other moms that it is okay to take some time to heal mentally, physically and spiritually and that in this time for everything, there is also a time for sadness and grief - and that's okay too.