Emily Mitchell, the 36-year-old mother of four behind the Instagram account @the.hidden.way, and her unborn child died on December 22. According to a GoFundMe post written by friend Allyson Speake, Mitchell passed “unexpectedly.” 

“Our hearts are broken and her joyful presence will be greatly missed by so many,” the GoFundMe reads. “Em made a big impact in so many people’s lives, and this loss is incomprehensible for anyone who knew her. Our friend was a dedicated mom and wife, she had a heart for the Lord, and loved her children so dearly.”

Speake is survived by her husband, Joseph Mitchell, an English and ESL teacher in a public school, and her children Finn, Isla, Edie, and Lulu.

Fellow family and homeschooling bloggers have posted their own tributes to Mitchell. In an Instagram post, @3littlelambshomestead writes that “I found myself cuddling + praying with” Mitchell’s four “beautiful babies” on the morning of her death, and that Mitchell had “sat down with her coffee and toast before peacefully slipping into heaven with her unborn child.”

Samantha of @thisgrowinglife posted her own tribute.

Mitchell began her Instagram in March 2018 to “better see the hidden beauty in the chaos...and to have treasured moments and stories documented,” according to her first post. She began steadily gaining a following in early 2019 thanks to her popularity in the online homeschooling community—a following that only increased in 2020 after the rise of at-home schooling due to the pandemic. 

“We are a homeschooling, Jesus-loving family of six,” she wrote in the fall of 2019. “Our kids are about 8, 6, 5, and almost 3. I kinda hateeeee labels 😩 so let’s say we are a mix of CM, wild + free, unschool, Reggio, and Montessori? 😂 def eclectic.⁣⁣. For us, homeschooling is a lifestyle.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by EMILY (@the.hidden.way)

Mitchell had around 80,000 followers at the time of her death, and the number has since doubled. Her GoFundMe has exceeded its $100,000 goal by over $60,000, thanks to more than 3,000 donations. 

“Together we went above and beyond to support them,” Speake wrote in a January 1, 2021 update. “And even though this will not take away their pain, we know this gift means a lot to them.”