Sunday, December 11, 2011

When Disagreement Turns Hateful: The Duggar Family Loss

When I first heard the Duggar family news that Michelle had miscarried, I felt spite well up, thinking of my own losses and comparing my family of 2 to her family of 20, and internally said, "I don't feel bad for her."

This past week, I read the story and my anger turned into concern and compassion.  Michelle had a late-term miscarriage, losing her baby at 20 weeks. I don't care how you feel about their growing family, a miscarriage is hard.  Also, to them, continuing to have children is a blessing and it is also their choice.  They are feeding, schooling, and taking care of their children and home without the help of government assistance or the community, what is selfish about that?

While I had an admittedly "right" reason for my anger, at least I was heedful of Michelle's pain and kept the thoughts to myself, not posting them on Facebook or even mentioning them to my friends.  Unfortunately, many threw mean comments right at her face, completely ignoring the pain she and her family are currently experiencing.

I have disagreements with Patriarchy and the Quiverfull movement, something that Melissa articulately describes in her post, Babies, Duggars and Me.  However, this is not about me and it's not about you.

It's about Michelle and her pain
a baby lost with all the accompanying sorrow
and coming together and collectively sharing her burden while lifting her up.

With so much hate in this world, why don't we recognize an important component to our evolution: compassion.

Rather than spreading hate by calling the Duggars "selfish" and, with disgusting temerity, saying things like, "God took the Duggars baby because He is sending them a message: stop conceiving," let's recognize her sorrow and cry with her and all women who have experienced loss.  I know I am.


  1. Yes. Loss is heartbreaking. This is a difficult time for them. In a way it surprises me that people would say things like that about Michelle, and yet it doesn't surprise me, because when we lost our first baby people at our church told us that it was God's way of telling us we weren't ready to be parents.

  2. Very thoughtful Amber. I am appalled at how judgmental people can be - and mean-spirited.

  3. What a perspective. Well said.

  4. Well said. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we remembered to lift each other up and hold each other as we grieve.

  5. That is absolutely horrible, Melissa. I don't understand why people yield religion like a weapon made of words.

  6. First I have to share some of my beliefs.
    I have an unshakable belief that God does not use procreation as punishment. Conception is a natural consequence of sex, and though it might feel like a punishment in the wrong circumstances--unwed teenagers, for example--it's not meant merely to deter people from "sinful behavior" (sex is not a sin, after all), but to steer them towards a better way. I could never imagine a God who is a perfect father, and who, above all, loves His children separating future babies into "blessing" and "cursing" categories. Regardless of how they come into the world, babies are how God makes the world better. Or at least gives us hope for something better.

    That being said, God only has imperfect people to work with, and that includes our imperfect bodies. Someone's inability to have children is NEVER a reflection of how God feels about them. Procreation (or the lack thereof) is never a punishment.

    Now to the Duggars. When I first heard the news I was so sad for them, especially after the near tragedy of their last birth. I hope Michelle's body hasn't reached its limit because that would mean so much heartache for them. But in a way, Michelle is lucky. A late-term miscarriage means that people knew you were pregnant. She'll get a lot of help now: people bringing meals, helping her with the house and the kids, letting her rest and recover, and heal emotionally, and most importantly, to grieve. Because everyone who has a miscarriage needs those things, but most people don't get them because they haven't announced anything yet. Am I advocating telling people you're pregnant as soon as you know? Of course not, because it is such a hard thing to "unannounce". But, it would be nice to have someone to take care of you for awhile.

    To Michelle, and you, Amber, and all my friends and everyone struggling with infertility, I am so sorry. I wish I knew what to say. I wish I could be there to support you, like you support all your friends through their pregnancies. But mostly, I wish you could feel the overwhelming love God has for you. And find peace.

    (sorry this is so long. Maybe I should have blogged it myself, but you provided such a good forum.)

  7. Very well said. You don't need to agree with their choice of living but a miscarriage is painful none the less.

  8. However we might feel about their choices, I agree - they are theirs. How quickly we lose our compassion (and perspective), when colored or fueled by our own circumstances.

  9. Great post! My mom's family is Mormon, my dad's family is Catholic...this adds up to some moderately huge reunions, especially when the two forces combine. I've watched some of the Duggar's shows, and while occasionally I giggle a bit (and privately wonder if I can get one of Michelle Duggar's happy pills when I'm having a bad day), I have a huge amount of respect for a family that is self-sufficient, happy, and very clearly well-adjusted and loved.

    The loss of a joyfully expected life is always a tragedy, regardless of how many lives have already been welcomed. To me, suggesting anything else would be tantamount to saying that you can't possibly love more than one child, that love is somehow diluted by the number of times it is shared.

    I think your initial reaction was completely human...I don't believe we should hold ourselves (or others) responsible for that first, instinctive thought. It's when we fail to think again, fail to apply the compassion we'd want to receive to someone else's situation, that we descend into hateful commentary. Unfortunately, the internet not only allows us to respond before we've had time to do that, it encourages the end result.

  10. A wonderful article, saying it how it is. It does us good to recognise the undercurrents of thought flowing beneath our civilised exteriors, and turn them on their head. Compassion. I'll remember that. Thank you.

  11. No matter how far along in a pregnancy - miscarriage is horrible. Unless you've gone through it, you can't even begin to imagine the heartache. The potential, the hopes, the dreams, the child not met...
    The. Worst.
    I feel bad for Michelle and her loss.
    Great post!

  12. Very well said! As someone whose desired number of children is zero, I don't feel I should judge the desired number of others, even if it's "as many as God sees fit to give."

    I hadn't heard about Michelle Duggar's miscarriage. That must have been a devastating loss for her.


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