I’m in the minority here and don’t see their posting on SM being a millennial thing, or just because they are on TV. I’ve had 3 close friends who have gone through something very similar. One was pregnant with twins and lost them both at 23 weeks. She delivered them both, a day apart from each other. She immediately took pictures and posted them online. She had been very open about her pregnancy and bedrest, and it was the easiest way to let everyone that knew her know she had lost them. This occurred 3 years ago, and she still celebrates her boys and shares their pictures on social media. Another friend had a singleton 2 years ago and lost him in the 22-24 week range as well. She, too, immediately posted his picture and celebrates him just the way she does her living daughter. Friend 1 was 34. Friend 2 was 25. Last spring, a very dear friend of mine went for her anatomy scan and found out their second child was a sweet baby boy. They also found out that he had multiple conditions that were in no way compatible with life. She is relatively well known and shares much of her life with her followers - though what she shares is filtered. She controls the information. After the ultrasound, she came home and grieved for a few days of what was to come and what will not be. She shared it with those of us closest to her. Several days later, she took immediately to social media to let everyone know what was going on. She did not share all of the details, but shared enough that her followers knew it was serious and grim. She chose to carry her son as long as the Lord allowed her. He was only expected to live a few days longer. She ended up carrying him until 30 weeks, when she started having signs of labor. She delivered a beautiful baby boy, who cried as he was born. He died shortly after in their arms. She had complications after birth and spent several extra days in the hospital. But once home for a few days, she again, shared the story of his birth, his short life, and his death. She shared from 20 weeks on her experience. She shared his story. She shared their feelings. Her reasoning - this was a child that they loved and prayed for. A child they wanted. They shared their first child, there was no way they were going to hide their second child away and not share and celebrate his life as well, no matter how short it was. Their first picture shared was of his sweet little hand. Nothing else, just his hand and theirs. A few weeks later, they shared a picture of him, but with his face turned away from the camera (he was very swollen and had some mild obvious deformities). A few weeks later, they shared his face, knowing that people were curious, and again, wanting to share and celebrate his life as much as a healthy child. She has shared many times about their walk, and how she didn’t know how to comfort one in her shoes before all of this. She has explained what she needed, how she felt, how she endured in the hopes that it would not only help another mother walking that road, but that it would help anyone who KNEW someone facing those hard days. She has since gone on to have another healthy son, almost a year to the date she lost her middle child. Her youngest is celebrated the same way the first 2 were. For reference sake, she is 35.
Ive experienced multiple miscarriages, all between 7-12 weeks. Losing a pregnancy, even that early, is devastating, but I can’t ever compare my grief to my friends who lost babies that they held in their arms. I’ve also learned that everyone grieves differently. I was 6 months pregnant when I lost my 32 year old sister very unexpectedly. My sister was my best friend. Grief changes us, whether we want it to or not. Sometimes we find comfort in talking as much as we can about the one we have lost, sharing pictures, videos, etc. Other times, we find comfort in secluding ourselves away, hiding from the world. Neither is right or wrong...we do what we have to do to survive these times.
I hate seeing judgement on these kids (sorry, that’s what they are to me) just because of the way they are grieving. MANY people who have a stillbirth, or lose a baby shortly after birth have photos taken. I’m a professional photographer and for a while, I took pictures for Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. It was a gut wrenching and beautiful job all at the same time. There was not a family that I photographed for that I didn’t cry right along with them. I hugged them and sobbed with them, while capturing every single thing that I could for them, knowing those pictures would be the only thing they had to “see” of their child in the hours, days, weeks, months, years to come. I would often get in my car to go home and be unable to drive for the tears. Joy isn’t the first person to have her hair and makeup done for photos after birth. I’ve had friends who have had normal births, and immediately after, called in a professional hair and make up artist to fix them up so that it looks as if they had an effortless birth, and are perfect for photos of their new family. I’d imagine it made Joy feel good after such heartache to be fluffed and puffed and made beautiful...even though I’m sure she was dying inside. That may not be true for everyone. After I gave birth to my daughter, I really didn’t care what I looked like. I was just overjoyed to finally have a living child in my arms. But I totally understand the “normalcy” of wanting to be made up, especially for pictures. I can not and will not fault Joy for that. Carlin gets on my nerves, but she deserves credit here. She did a beautiful thing by being there for her friend. She dropped everything and was THERE. That alone is a good friend to me. She did what she could - when she likely felt helpless in the situation - she did something that she could actually do (and is very good at)...she made Joy beautiful for her pictures; pictures that Joy will cling to and look back on for many years to come.
I see no problem with the images that were shared. They were tasteful and not at all inappropriate. Joy and Austin shared on THEIR timeline - apparently a week after they lost Annabell. They controlled that narrative.
And as far as the rest of the family continuing to post on social media even after they knew this had happened to their sister, I have a different perspective. It has already been mentioned that if they stopped posting on SM for a week, people would question why. They obviously wanted no attention drawn that would make people question what was going on. On top of that, I would be surprised if they do not always use an Instagram scheduler to post. You can load images a month or longer in advance, schedule the date that they will post, enter the caption, and some schedulers will even auto post for you...meaning, you never have to open Instagram and yet, your feed and stories are full. Considering the fact that the Duggar’s often post images that aren’t necessarily in real time, but weeks or longer after the picture was taken, I have felt for a while that they have used Planoly, Later, or one of the other schedulers out there. And I have no problem with it. I use it myself for my business. It keeps me posting frequently without having to devote time to the SM game every day. IF this is what many family members do, then it makes perfect sense why it appears as though the family members continued on with life as normal (multiple photos of Felicity, etc) while Joy and Austin were experiencing the worse days of their life.
I choose to give them grace through this. I’m not a Duggar fan by any means, but I don’t think their cult has any bearing on this. They are young adults who are in uncharted territory in their own life and they are doing what it takes to survive. And here’s the thing with grief...what works today for you, may not be what you need tomorrow. You take each day as it comes and you adjust the sails as necessary to keep yourself above water. If Joy and Austin find comfort I sharing their daughter, I applaud them for it. If they find comfort in hiding away from the world, continue hiding without question. Grieve, by whatever means necessary.