Photos of Stillborn Babies?

[deleted account] ( 51 moms have responded )

The Duggars held a memorial service for their 20th (stillborn) child, a girl. At the service, they passed out photos of Jim Bob's hand with the baby's feet resting on his fingers and Michelle's hand holding the baby's hand. I believe it contained a caption saying something to the effect of "no foot is too small to leave an imprint on this earth." Some people say that the picture is creepy. The topic was discussed on the local radio show here. Personally, I have FB friends who have pictures of stillborn infants on their FB pages that are much more graphic that the Duggars' pictures (which are more artistic). What are your thoughts? Gross/creepy/acceptable?

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Mary - posted on 12/17/2011

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I have to say, reading through some of these responses goes a long way in explaining why so many couples who suffer any type of pregnancy loss so feel isolated in their grief. There really is a prevailing attitude of "grieve however you wish...just keep it to yourself" when the loss involves an unborn child. It makes me incredibly sad.

Think about it....most of us who lose any loved one tend to pull out, and share pics of them, whether it is on FB, at some type of viewing or service, or in their own homes. While I understand that some of you think this is "different" because the lost loved one is question is pictured after they have died, you have to remember that this is all they will ever have. I'm quite sure that they fervently wish that they had pics of a live baby to share, but that simply wasn't meant to be. The only tangible bit of evidence that they are left with that this little being was real, and held an important place in their heart, are these photos, and perhaps some hand and foot prints.

How sad is it that so many of these bereaved couples feel forced to hide these precious mementos away because so many people think it's inappropriate or in poor taste to share what little they have of their child' s all to brief life. It really comes as no surprise that these parents feel so alone in their grief, and tend to shut themselves off from the world around them.

Merry - posted on 12/22/2011

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Ya know what, I get sad and upset when I see pictures of moms and daughters around the age I was when my mom died. Seeing mom and daughter pictures hurts me ànd makes me feel bad about my loss.
But no one would back me up to say that no one should post pictures of moms and daughters cuz it could be causing someone pain to see.
Fact is, everyone has experienced some sort of loss and some pictures trigger pain. But unless we ban all pictures all the time someone somewhere could be upset over the picture you posted.

So, while I know miscarriages must be hard, I haven't experienced one but I have experienced my mom dying when I was young and loss is loss, and I think if a picture is too much for you to see then its your job to turn away and not look.
And this isn't me trying to be insensitive, just trying to be fair.

[deleted account]

Mary, that would be different, because I would have KNOWN that child and would have seen that child walking around, running, talking, hanging with my child.

I would never want to isolate a grieving mother or make her feel shut out or like they can't discuss what they're going through. I've lost 4 babies. I can relate to the loss and as you know, I have done my fair share of talking about it. But personally, I wouldn't have put a picture of any of MY lost babies as my profile picture, because IIII wouldn't have been able to handle looking at it. Just like I couldn't handle looking at another mother's loss like that. It's not that I wouldn't want to help her get through it. I'd listen to her, be her shoulder to cry on for as long as she needed. But I don't want to see a deceased baby's face. I just don't. I understand that my pain is irrelevant compared to the parents of the deceased baby. I also understand that it is their right to grieve however they choose. I, however, choose not to look. Maybe that's selfish on my part. Or maybe it's just that I know how much loss and sorrow I can handle.

On that note, I'm bowing out of this conversation because apparently I cannot word what I want to say in the right way, without making myself sound like some kind of hard core selfish person. I really am not. I should have known better than to look, read and comment on this one.

Christy - posted on 12/23/2011

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And again on the "personally" level, I find it offensive that anyone would consider this "creepy". If it was YOUR baby, what would YOU do or how would YOU feel about it? They never got to see their baby alive. Let them grieve.

Mary - posted on 12/16/2011

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Taking pictures of stillborns is, and always has been, a very common practice. I think what's "different" is that those of us who have never had one are just now more aware of it.

Every couple that loses a child, regardless of gestational age, grieves differently. Many tend to be much more private about their grief. In the hospital where I worked (and most others), the staff always ensures that at least a few pictures are taken of the baby. Even those babies who are not in the best shape are photographed; we do our absolute best with little hats, blankets and clothing to make them as "presentable" as we can. (many community volunteers - often little old ladies from various churches - knit the sweetest little hats and outfits, and donate them just for this purpose). If possible, we also do keepsake hand and foot prints. Like Lotus talked about, all keepsakes are placed in a memory box, which is offered to the bereaved family. Some parents want no parts of this - which is fine. They are told that this box will be kept for a minimum of one year, should they change their minds. The photos are place in an envelope, so that they are only viewed by someone who wants to see them (and some parents never do).

I don't think there is any right or wrong way to grieve for an unborn child. I don't think that pictures of them are creepy or disturbing. In many cases, they are comforting. I think what most people struggle with is their own discomfort in how to best interact with a couple that has lost a child - as well as the general reminder that not all pregnancies have a "happy ending".

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Tina - posted on 12/22/2011

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Every body has their own way of greiving yes a little creepy but that's their way of dealing with it. The baby may not have been born alive but it's still been apart of theirs. In many ways pictures help us grieve. It also reminds people no matter how you feel about their situation as a family and how you feel about how many children they have, they are grieving the loss of a child that you can never replace.

Merry - posted on 12/22/2011

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Yeah well if the pictures are graphic then I think anyone would be a bit creeped out by them. The professional ones on NILMDTS are sometimes in black and white, sometimes just the face is showing, different angles' etc to have the end result look as 'normal' as possible.

[deleted account]

I think pictures taken while a person was living are different than pictures taken of the dead IMHO. There is a difference between viewing a picture of a living person and feeling the pain of their loss vs. having the gory nature of death right in your face as it is when you are viewing the picture of a dead person, particularly an infant. Just as a frame of reference, I have a friend who lost her baby at full term. The baby's cord somehow became wrapped around the baby's neck during the last week of her pregnancy and the baby died. They realized that the baby had died during her labor. It was a horrible situation for the family. They have many, many pictures posted on FB of the baby, who is blue and whose skin is peeling. Honestly, I find the pictures very unsettling, certainly more unsettling than the pictures of the Duggar baby (which, like I mentioned, are more artistic than graphic IMHO). I do think it would be nice if they would have put some sort of note or disclaimer on them rather than just posting them on her wall.

Merry - posted on 12/22/2011

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Mary, the weird thing is I've always wanted to be a photographer and thinking about this and looking around on now I lay me down to sleep website I think I would feel good about having a job there. It seems morbid but there's something I think that would feel good about helping parents get some good photographs of their baby to remember them by.

Erin - posted on 12/17/2011

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I see both sides too. I get that it can be triggering for someone who has been through their own loss to see photos of a stillborn. But ultimately I still agree with Mary. It is those parents' hour or need. It is their baby - the only thing they have of them - and it is their FB page. We all have the option of hiding them for a while if it is too much for us. But that doesn't make what they're doing wrong.

[deleted account]

Thanks Johnny. You're right. There really is no right answer. And rules? There are no rules for how parents should grieve, any more than there are rules for what other people can handle.

Johnny - posted on 12/17/2011

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Joy, I do not think you sound selfish at all!!! We all have our own limits, and I can understand how it really can be too much for people. I think this sort of thing is one of the most challenging things for society, because each of us has such competing yet equally important needs as related to our grieving and our own emotions. I'm not sure that there is ever truly a RIGHT answer.

Mary - posted on 12/17/2011

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Joy, I do understand what you are saying, but...

Let's say your neighbor's 4 y/o, who is a classmate of your son, is killed in some type of accident. Would you be similarly pained if she kept his school pic up as her profile picture indefinitely? Would that too be considered insensitive to the feelings of others? Am I being careless of others who have lost a parent when I use a pic of my (deceased) mother and my daughter as my profile pic? Or are the rules somehow different if the lost loved one actually took a breath outside of the womb?

I'm genuinely not trying to find fault here - I just really don't understand why the "rules" are different when there is a stillbirth. I do know that some of the opinions and feelings expressed here have a lot to do with why these women feel so isolated, and tend to shut others out, or feel as if they really cannot discuss what they are going through (if they feel so inclined).

[deleted account]

Sherri, maybe I misspoke or maybe you misunderstood but I never said it was selfish. I just meant that it would be extremely difficult for ME to look at. In fact, I love my best friend dearly. But if she ever posted pics of her deceased baby on her FB profile pic, I'd probably avoid her on FB for awhile and just talk to her on the phone (she lives two states away). I wasn't trying to disrespect anyone. I was merely giving my opinion.

Johnny - posted on 12/17/2011

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I can see both sides of this issue. But I suppose that I think that somehow our feelings about someone else's loss, however that relates to our own, is just not as important as their feelings about their own loss.

This is sort of a hard thing to explain, so I will try my best...

We started discussing this topic less than a week after I miscarried. And I am experiencing my own issues about it. But those are mine about my own loss. I don't feel it is right for me to expect someone to grieve in a way that makes ME comfortable about their loss. I know that I haven't talked to anyone in real life about it, and that's how I prefer to keep it. I would hate to have someone tell me I HAD to discuss it and that was the only acceptable thing to do. So in turn, even though I might keep these things more private, I can not expect others to do that because it is in my comfort zone.

Frankly, this topic has been a bit emotional for me. And I am sure for many others. But I did have the choice to just look at the title and avoid it. Just like if someone has a picture of their stillborn baby. I know it can be painful to see for others, but no where near as painful as it was for the parents. So to me, their needs just have to come first.

Sherri - posted on 12/17/2011

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Although I see your view and respect it. I just have a different one and it is about 100% opposite of yours. I feel to get over my grief I would want my baby and his or her pictures with me and would want to display and share them with everyone and anyone. My feeling is if you didn't want to see or look at my baby then don't look that is your option. But they were still my child and a baby I loved beyond life itself and I would want to share him or her as such. It also is my FB page and I am able to post what ever pictures I want on my own personal page not to mention if I am not a close friend with you anyways you probably aren't a friend on my FB. It is the farthest thing ever from being selfish or uncaring to others.

[deleted account]

I probably wouldn't choose to take pictures of my dead baby. However, it doesn't bother me one bit that others do. How other people grieve their losses is none of my business. Now, about the issue of keeping it private. My initial response is to say that I do think it should be kept private or only shared with those immediately close to the grieving parents. As someone who has suffered several miscarriages, it most certainly would cause me pain to open my FB and see someone's dead baby as their profile picture, however tastefully done it was. I get that parents need to grieve. I get that those pictures are the ONLY pictures they'll ever have. But just as someone having cancer doesn't give them free reign to be selfish, a parent suffering a loss (even one so huge) doesn't give them the right to totally be insensitive to other parent's (who have also lost) feelings. I know this may make me seem like a callous bitch but, I just try to see things from all sides. Here's an example: When my grandfather died, I was living in Ohio, he in Florida. I wasn't able to attend the funeral and if I had, I would NOT have gone up to see his body in the casket (for personal reasons I won't get into here). When I eventually moved back to Florida, my aunt and I were going through photo albums one day and she shoved a picture in my face and said, "Look, here's your Grandaddy at his funeral." I literally got up and left the room. THAT is now the last image of him I have in my head. I kind of equate someone plastering their baby's picture all over facebook in the same way. I understand the grief and I feel the pain. But I don't want to look at it over and over and over again. Does that make sense to anyone?

Krista - posted on 12/17/2011

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In the hospital where I worked (and most others), the staff always ensures that at least a few pictures are taken of the baby. Even those babies who are not in the best shape are photographed; we do our absolute best with little hats, blankets and clothing to make them as "presentable" as we can.

This made me cry -- what a heartbreaking task that must have been.

[deleted account]

I saw a few and my lord it made me so thankful for the two healthy daughters i have.Its heartbreaking to see what other moms&dads have to endure not to mention siblings too.
I do fine it acceptable.Although i do fined some pictures were the babies are posed and there are props etc.Well not appropriate or needed.In my opinion but i do respect parents as i have no idea what they must be thinking or going through.So i can't comment.

Mrs. - posted on 12/17/2011

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I don't think it is sick or twisted, it is totally up to the family.

I do, however, think that they could have had the pictures to share with their family and close friends. I'm not sure having them on TMZ, or in a place TMZ could get access to them is a healthy way of dealing with it. That's just me personally, but the Duggars have been in the public eye for some time and must know when they display the photos in a public forum, they are going to get out to be viewed by everyone with a computer and access to TLC.

[deleted account]

I did too, but it wasn't their problem or fault that I was struggling. I got an invitation to a baby shower shortly after my first miscarriage. I bawled the whole way home from the post office, but I still went to the baby shower. I saw tons of pregnant women or little babies after my second miscarriage (several of my friends were due w/in a few months of me....). After my ex left.... every time I'd see a father w/ his baby or young child it ripped my heart out... for about a year.

All that was HARD to deal w/, but who am I to tell someone else how they can and can not grieve for THEIR loss? Sure, pics blasted all over Facebook would be a bit much, but that tiny little profile pic (it IS super tiny as long as you aren't on the person's wall) or all in one album.... You could also always block the person if it bothers you that much.

I don't even know if I'm making any sense. I just know that loss sucks and I wouldn't want someone censoring my way of grieving anymore than I'd bet they'd want me doing the same to them.

Rosie - posted on 12/17/2011

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but that was their choice to have you there mary. it isn't someones choice to open their facebook page and look at pictures of dead babies on it.
btw-i can't imagine being there to do that, that's very kind of you. i had trouble being around pregnant women for a long time after my miscarriages. :(

Mary - posted on 12/17/2011

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Kati - to you it may be a dead fetus, but to that parent, it is their baby.

I do feel strongly about this...years in L&D, and caring for many, many couples who have lost a much wanted baby has shaped my view on this.

I worked in L&D throughout my entire pregnancy with Molly. I had miscarried three months prior to conceiving her. After everyone at work knew I was pregnant again, they really tried to shield me from having to care for anyone experiencing a loss. I found that sort of silly. After all, it's not as if I didn't know about it...and it's not as if stillborns are contagious. I had no more reservations about assisting another nurse bathe and photograph a dead baby than I did when I wasn't pregnant. If anything, it only made me cherish my own pregnancy just a little bit more.

Now, out of consideration for the feelings of a grieving couple, I did try to avoid them when I was visibly pregnant (which, in scrubs, wasn't until after 30+ weeks). However, there was a night I was working in our triage area, when I was roughly 34 weeks. A woman came in around midnight, complaining of decreased fetal movement. I could not find a heartbeat, and an ultrasound confirmed that the baby was, in fact, dead. Our due dates were only a week apart.

I absolutely could have handed her off to another nurse (the triage nurse typically stays in triage, and transfers the care of the patient once she is admitted). In my heart, that just seemed cruel. I asked this couple what they wanted, and if my being their nurse was too much for them to bear. It was not about ME, and my own discomfort at helping to deliver a dead baby so close in age to the one I was carrying - it was about them, and what they needed and wanted.

They asked me to remain with them, and much to the disapproval of my co-workers, I did. I won't lie - it was very, very hard. But very few things I have done in my nursing career were as worthwhile as staying with them through that exquisitely difficult time in their life.

Merry - posted on 12/17/2011

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I think pictures of stillborn babies or any photos of dead people or animals shouldn't just be popping up all over the place. Put it in an album or on a memorial site. I'm ALL for photos of whatever you want, but yes I think it would be really insensitive to have it as your Facebook profile.

Rosie - posted on 12/17/2011

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but mary don't you think it's insensitive to other mothers who have suffered miscarriage to have them pop open your facebook page to see a dead fetus there? to me it's extremely insensitive to do so.

Becky - posted on 12/17/2011

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I read an article on Yahoo last night about this, and it was horrible. So insensitive. And some of the comments were disgusting. I know everyone has a right to their opinion on how many kids the Duggars have, but to critisize them for the way they express their grief is extremely heartless, IMO.

Esther - posted on 12/17/2011

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I find it acceptable. If it were me I would take pictures. I'm not sure if I would post them on FB, but if I would maybe I would make sure the cover of the album would be something like "these are photo's of our stillborn child" just as a heads up for those not wanting to see them.
Someone I used to know had stillborn twins boys, she made a photoalbum and wanted to share that with people. I was totally okay with it, but at the time told her I did not want to look at it then since I was pregnant myself. I just couldn't do it at that time and she appreciated my honesty.
Grieve should not have to be private.

Sherri - posted on 12/16/2011

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Totally acceptable and I absolutely love the idea. Honestly I would do the same and would take hundreds of pictures of my baby especially since those would be the only pictures I would ever have of him or her in this lifetime.



I would also post them on my FB probably do a youtube video as well. I don't think there is anything wrong with them and I certainly would not keep them only private. That is and was my baby and I would want to show the world.

Rosie - posted on 12/16/2011

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i find it acceptable, just think they should keep them to themselves. posting them for the world to see is overboard IMO. that should be for your eyes only..

Tinker1987 - posted on 12/16/2011

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I think the pictures should be a private thing.But i dont think it would be healthy too have it as a profile picture or something and stare at all the time, im not sure that would help the person.

Merry - posted on 12/16/2011

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I would take pictures if it were my baby. If i had any form of a baby to see myself, of want a picture. I photograph everything and pictures are very important to me. So yeah it's not creepy to me. Idk of I'd let the public see it, but me, family and friends, sure. I'd love that baby and miss him or her and want to remember it.

[deleted account]



An online friend of mine lost her baby last year... I forget what the problem is called... something where the head/brain don't develop properly.. Anyway, their Christmas card last year was the family in the hospital bed holding the baby (w/ a hat on).

If I lost a baby like that I would want pictures to remember him/her and would want to share them w/ family and friends.

The pictures w/ the hands and feet sound incredibly precious. ♥ Another online friend of mine DOES stillborn pics. I can't imagine how much strength it takes to do a task like that. I'd be bawling so hard I'd never hold a camera still.... :(

Lady Heather - posted on 12/16/2011

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I think if it were me I would want pics for myself but I wouldn't share them with others. Most people don't want to see pictures of little ones that aren't alive. Most people don't want to see pics of anybody not alive. It's not so much that it's creepy to me. It's just really sad and hard to look at. But if it was my own child that would be my only memory of them and I know I'd want it.

Jenni - posted on 12/16/2011

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I believe it's acceptable to take photos for the grieving family. But definitely should be private.



I had one person on my FB who lost her infant at 20 weeks and had him as her profile pic for a year +. She isn't a friend or anything just someone I went to HS with. But I couldn't take staring at that poor infant every time I checked my FB. I feel for her loss, most definitely but I finally had to delete her. I would *never* post that on my FB it would be something I'd keep private. It both grieved and disturbed me at the same time. I don't want to take from her loss... but c'mon now... FB? For a year +? It's extremely graphic as well. And as a your profile pic so every time you post anything it comes up in everyone's livefeed. It's just really depressing. :( I personally couldn't handle it anymore.

Tara - posted on 12/16/2011

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Completely acceptable. A friend of mine gave birth to her sixth baby, fourth son this past summer, he was 39 weeks, and stillborn. They held him lots during the 5 day hospital stay, they took foot prints and handprints, they took lots of photos, his sister who is 6 held him and they took pics for her, she didn't want her daughter to forget that she has a little brother.
Before I knew she was going to show me the pics as she really wanted someone to share his beauty with, I looked online at some others, some are really strange, where the baby has been made up with paint and is propped on pillow, eyes closed, some are dressed up like little angels and then placed on white pillows, some are taken when the baby is in their casket etc.
But in my opinion, all are acceptable, if posting such pics helps their healing process than who is to judge that?

Caitlin - posted on 12/16/2011

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I think it's a wonderful thing and I'm glad that there are places out there that do these photos and memory boxes. I could see it as being a very important thing to lots of women - It's something that you may never look at, but you know it's there and that's what really matters - because in reality, there WAS something there, and it's wonderful to remember it in any way that helps people heal..

As for sharing it - totally their perogative. If it was only the hands and feet, it's not graphic at all, and if you are uncomfortable looking - don't look IMO.

Bonnie - posted on 12/16/2011

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For them, they are so use to the publicity by now and all their fans following them, maybe that's why they felt the need to share. Personally, i'm not sure I would be able to take pictures with the fetus and if I did, they would be private.

[deleted account]

I think i'ts fine for the family and those who are grieving. I would NOT use it as a press release but then I'm a very private person and they are not. I would like to believe that they would not use this sad situation for publicity.

Erin - posted on 12/16/2011

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I think parents grieving such a loss have the right to do whatever they want. Take pictures, or don't. Keep them private, or don't. Whatever is going to help them heal is fine with me.

I've seen photos of stillborns online and while it is very confronting, I don't find it the least bit creepy or weird.

Sal - posted on 12/16/2011

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I agree with the acceptable but private idea, I dont know if I'd do photos at all but I certainly wouldn't hand them out, on victorian times photos of deceased children wss common as it was often the only photo the parents had, they were strangely beautiful, I just prey it isn't a decision I will ever need to face

Becky - posted on 12/15/2011

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I don't find it creepy. I have had a few friends who have had stillbirths or have lost infants who have posted their pictures. I find them incredibly heartbreaking, but not creepy. I would certainly take pictures if we were to lose a baby. I don't know that I would post them to facebook, but I think I would be okay with sharing them if people asked to see them.

Jennifer - posted on 12/15/2011

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My baby was fully formed at 7 1/2 months. We thought about taking pictures, but decided against it. I do have a memory box, but don't think I've ever showed it to anyone. Not even my husband. I don't feel that it was creepy for the Duggars to do this, though. People deal with things differently, and if it helps them get through it, good for them!

Brianna - posted on 12/15/2011

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I think that if u want a picture of your stillborn that is fine but it should be kept private. i have someone on my FB that posted a bunch of pictures of her stillborn daughter and i found it very weird and creepy... i mean i really dont think its acceptable to put that on FB.. Ive had 2 miscarriages and would never but a picture of them on FB

Johnny - posted on 12/15/2011

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Completely acceptable. For me, it would be a very private thing. And a couple of my friends have the memory boxes that Lotus referred to, but I have never seen them. They keep them private. Although I would not be bothered to look. I think for some people it is intensely personal and private, while for others, sharing makes them feel better. Even if the photos are a bit "creepy", it saddens me that people would be negative towards grieving parents remembering their lost child.

Charlie - posted on 12/15/2011

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The hospital here gives out beautiful hand painted boxes with a book of all your childs information, weight , finger prints and hand prints and photos of the child.

I have one of our first child Jackson he was 15 weeks old, that is something we keep private because it is quite graphic , fully formed except for the skin which was translucent.
I think for an older gestated child, one that looks like a sleeping baby it would be fine to share but maybe a heads up for those who are not comfortable seeing it.

I think for the duggars it will be something important and special and really it something that helps with the healing process.

There are a few places that specialise in stillborn photography like http://www.nowilaymedowntosleep.org/our_... and the photos are beautiful, sometimes it's one of the only visual reminders you have that they were real.

Iridescent - posted on 12/15/2011

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I find it acceptable, but private. If you find it creepy, don't look. The family needs a way to cope with never having held their child alive, and all they will ever have is a photo.

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