On Wednesday, an unseasonably warm winter day in Springdale, Ark., friends and family of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar gathered to pay their respects to the couple’s 20th child, a stillborn baby girl named Jubilee Shalom.
“I feel a great sorrow and grief, and yet at the same time I have a peace in my heart,” said Michelle. “This is so sad, but I have peace. There are people praying for us and angels surrounding our home, and there was peace in the sorrow and the grief. Those feelings are mingled together.”
The reality stars of TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting discovered on Dec. 8 at a routine doctor’s appointment that their 20th child no longer had a heartbeat. Michelle, 45, miscarried the baby on Dec. 11, the day after their youngest child, Josie Brooklyn, born at 25 weeks gestation and just over 1 lb., turned 2 years old.
A letter Michelle recorded for Jubilee was played at the memorial. She wanted to “pour my heart out to Jubilee, and I knew there was no way I could read this at the service,” she explains.
The Duggars also contacted the nonprofit organization Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, which helps families deal with the miscarriage and loss of their babies, to take photos the family could keep and use at the memorial service. Some of those photos have been released without Jim Bob and Michelle’s consent, according to a spokesperson for the family, and were intended for private use only.
The Duggars, devout Christians who have left the number of children they have “up to God,” say they will now quietly spend time together with their family.
“We have so much to be thankful for,” Michelle says. “I know that in the days and weeks to come there will be other things that I will walk though, and grief that will come, and there will be times that we will worship and sing praises. I know that God will allow me to continue to release the emotions that I will release.”
Physically, Michelle says she has been resting and feels well.
Jim Bob added: “I really believe that God sees the bigger picture. I hope that her short life can encourage other people who have gone through things like this. It was very healing, and we have precious memories.”