Grey's Anatomy alum and rom-com queen Katherine Heigl has suffered a lot of loss over the years, so when she went to visit her family in Buffalo, New York, she also made sure to spend time with her deceased relatives too.
The 39-year-old and her husband, musician Josh Kelley, took a trip to Forest Lawn Cemetery and stopped by her maternal grandfather Reinhold F. Engelhardt's grave. He died in 1985 at the age 82 when the actress was just seven years old.
She posed for a photo next to the tombstone before heading over to her grandmother Margaretta Jane Debus Engelhardt's grave, as well as her brother's resting place.
In 1986, Heigl's older brother, Jason, was just 15 years old when he became involved in a car accident that occurred while he was out for lunch with his schoolmates.
He was seriously injured after being thrown from the back of a pickup truck, and unfortunately, died from his injuries.
"It's one of those things that pretty much devastates an entire family for years and years, and then it changes the entire dynamic for the rest of your life," Heigl said in an interview with New York Daily News. "Everything is different forever now. But I have an amazing family, and I think that we have lived with it gracefully."
On Instagram, Heigl shared the photos of herself posing beside her loved ones' graves, which many of her followers thought were respectably and appropriately sweet.
However, it was the rest of the photos and captions she included in the gallery that had many others furious.
During their time at the cemetery, the Suits actress and Kelley also posed for photos next to gravestones that don't appear to belong to her relatives. In one of the snaps, she's seen taking a selfie "with an impatient angel."
The couple also happened to stumble upon a large tombstone that bears Kelley's last name, and Heigl joked in the caption of the photo that "Josh found his own grave...which was weird."
Another photo captioned, “I also managed to get a little gossip with the girls," shows Heigl sitting and smiling in between two angel statues.
Soon after the photos were uploaded, Heigl's comment section was filled with people who were angry about Heigl's disrespect for the dead. Many were particularly rattled by the photo in which she's posing on a stranger's monument beside the weeping angels.
Once the backlash became severe, the actress took down the post and immediately issued an apology for her "inappropriate" behavior.
“Hey everybody, so I’m in the car driving home from my family time in Buffalo and I noticed on my Instagram page that the post I posted earlier was getting a lot of reaction and I realized you guys are right and that was not appropriate and was disrespectful and I’ve taken it down,” Heigl said at the start of her apology video.
She continued, "But somebody commented and … was kind of just saying they didn’t think it was an appropriate thing to do, but that I was probably trying to make a hard moment lighthearted and that’s exactly what I was doing."
The 27 Dresses actress explained that going to visit the family members she lost id "kind of a heavy thing," so she "decided to try to find some moments of levity and humor and didn't realize how inappropriate I was being."
"So I deeply apologize and I thank you guys for understanding that sometimes I don’t think things through clearly enough," she added. "And I am grateful for your input and for kind of giving me a head’s up when I’m maybe going too far. And thank you for forgiving me."
"Next time I will be more thoughtful about other people’s feelings and not just my own. Anyway, I hope you’re all having a wonderful Sunday and again, thank you for kind of stepping up and saying something and bringing something to my awareness that needed to be brought," she concluded.
Some fans came to her defense after she posted these videos, reassuring her that it wasn't a big deal.
"What does it matter how others react to how you cope? He was your brother. Cope how you please," wrote one user.
Another noted, "...you did nothing wrong...people including myself take pics in the cemetery all the time. But, you are showing how caring you are with this post. Keep being you!! Never let anyone dull your sparkle....."
The controversy hasn't stopped Heigl, who is currently in Toronto filming Season 8 of Suits, from continuing to share her life on Instagram.
Do you think Heigl's photos are inappropriate? Let us know!