The Duggar family from The Learning Channel's "19 Kids and Counting" has spent the last week grieving over the loss of what was to be the 20th child of the family, and have become the subject of controversy due to leaked photos of their unborn child.
The unborn child, Jubilee Shalom Duggar, was miscarried by Michelle Duggar four months early and to commemorate their short time with the baby, the family took pictures with the deceased Jubilee and held a private ceremony.
The memorial service was held at the family's church in Arkansas last Wednesday.
At the service they handed out some of the pictures taken with the baby, and had an inscription that read, "There is no foot too small that it cannot leave an imprint on this world."
The photos were taken by an organization called, Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. The organization provides hope and encouragement for families who miscarried, gave birth to a stillborn, or have a baby that will die soon after birth.
They offer the free service of sending a photographer to the location of the family and stage a photo shoot to have a lasting memory with the baby.
The photographers are volunteers and they help capture and create a lasting memory despite only having moments with the deceased child.
The website lists their mission statement: “To introduce remembrance photography to parents suffering the loss of a baby with the free gift of professional portraiture. We believe these images serve as an important step in the family’s healing process by honoring their child’s legacy.”
“Words can’t describe what I’ve experienced these past few days with the Duggar family. I feel honored and blessed to have been in the family’s company. They are the most real, down-to-earth, loving people I have ever met,” said the Duggar’s photographer, Deborah Billingsley to People Magazine. “If every person on earth could spend just 10 minutes with this family, the world would be a better place.”
The photos were uploaded to Twitter by one of the Duggar clan's cousins, Amy. Although the Tweet seemed innocent enough, many are crying foul and feel it was an inappropriate move.
Many bloggers and websites are participating in what has become known as "Duggar Hate," as they feel the family is exploiting their recently deceased child for ratings by releasing the pictures.
In what is supposed to be a time of mourning, the family is now being subjected to heat from online critics and even fans of the show, according to Celebs.Gather.
People has spoken to the Duggar's and asked how they were handling their grief, and how to comfort 19 other kids.
Referring to her 7-year-old son Jackson, "I told him there is going to be a day when we are going to be together again," Michelle said. "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."
Twenty-year-old daughter, Jill, who was charting the baby's growth and heartbeat because of her studies to be a midwife, took the loss particularly hard, said her mother.
"She was crying and weeping last night," Michelle said at Jubilee's service. "I hugged her and 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.'"
Michelle said her older daughters have been a big help in the grieving process, and that her husband Jim Bob is "taking care of everything."
Touching on the celebration of five birthdays in December, Michelle said, "Our calendar is cleared off, and we are going to take time to talk and pray and cry. This is going to be a time for our family to just be together.”