PLIDA’s mission is to promote the highest quality of consistent evidence-based perinatal bereavement care for all families who experience the death of a baby. We express this mission through professional continuing education, the establishment of Position Statements and practice guidelines, unified responses to issues in the media or legislation, and by creating a network for professionals to share questions, resources, insight, and support.

Each PLIDA member is imperative for the success of this organization. Our members are the ones working on the front lines, putting in the time, sharing their knowledge, energy and carrying out this organization mission. PLIDA would like to highlight and share the work of our members and their contributions to our community. 

Are you interested in being featured as a PLIDA Member, or know someone who is? The application is available here: Member Spotlight Application


 

The Pregnancy Loss and Infant Death Alliance would like to introduce to you PLIDA member Britney Spees, Co-Founder of Mamie's Poppy Plates in Little Rock, Arkansas, and highlight the contributions of her organization to the families and the communities they serve.

Ten years ago, my sister lost her daughter Mamie shortly before her due date. As with many grieving parents, she was searching for answers and a way to make Mamie's life meaningful. In 2011, we began what is now Mamie's Poppy Plates, a non-profit organization that provides remembrance plates to families who experience the loss of a baby or child. We began with one plate in one hospital. We never imagined the growth we would experience. Ten years later, we are partnered with 76 hospitals across the country and gifted more than 1,000 plates to grieving parents last year.

These plates give families a tangible memory of their child to proudly display and share with others. We also host a monthly volunteer night where parents are able to come together and help in preparing our plates to be shipped. This past Mother's Day weekend would have been our 9th annual Poppy Party, our biggest fundraiser. Last year, more than 2,000 people attended the birthday celebration to gather with other families, recognize their babies and raise funds for the Mamie's mission. As with so many charities, we have had to regroup and are now hosting a Virtual Memory Walk on Father's Day. We felt this was the perfect opportunity to recognize dads and father figures and allow families across the country to participate. Families can form teams and fundraise in memory of their child. Then, we are asking them to gather with their small circle on Father's Day and walk a mile in memory of their baby. Our goal is to reach families in all 50 states and continue to grow our plate production.

Our charity is completely a grass roots organization, funded by generous donors who have either had a personal loss or just have a big heart for the Mamie's mission. We are daily inspired by our volunteers, families willing to give back, and the feedback that we receive from our hospitals and plate recipients. We have found our growth comes from hard work, dedication and a willingness to evolve. We are so thankful for what we have been able to accomplish these past ten years, but we know there are so many more parents out there who need our love and support. Will you link arms with us this Father's Day and help raise awareness and funds for grieving families. 

To find out how to get involved please visit www.mamiespoppyplates.com

Britney Spees
Co-Founder, Mamie's Poppy Plates
Little Rock, Arkansas

The photo shown here is of Britney Spees and her sister, Sarah Adams. They are co-founders of Mamie's Poppy Plates. Mamie was Sarah’s daughter. 

For Contact Information, please visit PLIDA Members Directory
Area of Expertise: Bereavement Support Group Facilitation


The Pregnancy Loss and Infant Death Alliance would like to highlight the trajectory of PLIDA member and IPBC Speaker Joni Cutshaw, Perinatal Bereavement Coordinator at Franciscan Health Indianapolis, IN. 

Serving Precious Families 

What a beautiful journey! I had no idea when I started my career in nursing in 1983 that I would complete it as a Perinatal Bereavement Coordinator and caring for families with pregnancy loss. Retiring in 2020 has been my intent for a long time. No one would have thought we would face a pandemic this year and need to cancel or postpone so many events, including the PLIDA conference which I have attended for many years. I have met so many incredible comrades through PLIDA. I thank everyone for being part of my story and support. Our 2021 conference will indeed be a sweet reunion after passing through such uncertain times.

I started my career in intensive care with very ill patients who often died. I was so excited to have the opportunity to work on a labor and delivery unit where everyone was happy and healthy when they left the hospital. Or, so I thought. I soon realized that not everyone was happy and healthy when they left labor and delivery. I was drawn to the dear families on the unit who were having the worst possible day of their life. They too needed intensive care, but not just medical procedures.  “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17) is my life verse.

I started working with Ann Kamph and Judy Fendal with the Share program in 1988 at Community East in Indianapolis. Feeling a calling to care for grieving parents more, I transferred to Community North. My director asked if I would start a bereavement program there in 1993. I had recently experienced my own very personal loss of a loved one and realized that I wanted to provide comfort for families through the love that only Christ provides and to minister to others.  “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).  The work I am most proud of is facilitating the startup of the Perinatal in-home hospice program at Community Home Health in Indianapolis.

The Indianapolis Perinatal Bereavement City Coalition has been one of the most important support systems in my career. This is an outstanding group of women from several hospitals.  I highly recommend that you search out other like-minded professionals near you—the journey will be so much lighter with their support.       

Through the coalition, I became friends with Marcia Jenkins and Jane Heustis, bereavement coordinators at different hospitals. We always worked together, never competing, and I learned so very much from them. Marcia and I joked that, when she retired, I would continue her ministry at Franciscan Health. That dream came true for both of us nine years ago. 

It has been a true honor to have served all my families. I have always felt that all the babies I have cared for are beautiful and I have poured out all my love as I cared for them. I look forward to the day when I am in Glory and meet the babies, face to face, totally healed and perfect. What a day that will be! 

The PLIDA family has blessed me in many ways.  My prayers will continue to surround you as you continue the good work. Take really good care of each other.     

Joni Cutshaw BSN, RNC, CPLC, CCAP
Perinatal Bereavement Coordinator
Franciscan Health, Indianapolis, IN

 ___________________

If I could choose anyone, Who would I pick to be my mentor? 

My name is Becky Cassinelli. I am a volunteer at Franciscan Health, Indianapolis. I became a volunteer 16 years ago. I wanted to help "one" cause and help others. The cause was infant loss, the reason was my own bereavement. Then, I met an angel along the way. There she stood, a 5 foot 2 inches, angel, and her name is Joni Cutshaw.

Joni has dedicated her life to helping others in their darkest moments and deepest tragedies. Each and every day, her job consists of overwhelming sadness, fear & pain. Yet somehow, Joni is one of the most uplifting persons I know. She is GOD driven, always positive, treats all with such kindness. I often ask myself, how does she do it? The answer is simple. She is an angel.

She gives life reason. She can heal others with her touch & words of wisdom. She is who I admire and who I want to become. She has changed my life. She has changed the standard of care for women & children. What an incredible foot print she will leave, for me & others to follow. This is why, I choose Joni Chushaw as my mentor.

Becky Cassinelli
Caring Companion, Volunteer service, Franciscan Health.

 ___________________

Joni has been a vital part to the success of our city coalition group, as well as the great perinatal bereavement support our families receive in Indiana.  This city coalition has been a gift in not only supporting each other and sharing our ideas, but also has played a hand in lifelong friendships.  Joni welcomed me without hesitation when I started my bereavement coordinator role several years ago and has not left my side since.  She has taught, listened, supported, and showed me the importance of taking a moment to reflect, center myself, and take a sip of tea. Joni will be missed in her work, but is so deserving of her retirement.  Job well done!!
Kim Taylor

For Contact Information, please visit PLIDA Members Directory
Areas of Expertise: Bereavement Coordination, Perinatal Hospice & Palliative Care

Are you interested in being featured as a PLIDA Member, or know someone who is?
The application is available here: 
Member Spotlight Application


 The Pregnancy Loss and Infant Death Alliance would like to introduce to you PLIDA member Dr. Mara Tesler Stein, Psy.D., EMDRIA Approved Consultant and Trainer from Lincolnwood, IL

Mara Tesler Stein, Psy.D., EMDRIA Approved Consultant and Trainer
Founder and Director
The Touchstone Institute for Psychotherapy and Training 

Areas of Expertise: Clinical Psychologist, Writer, Consultant and Trainer, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit


There's a metaphor that I've drawn upon for years, ever since my twins were born early. Ever since joining the community of parents of preemies and then, the professional world of therapists supporting the healing of parents and families in the midst of perinatal crisis. Debbie Davis and I use it in our book, "Parenting Your Premature Baby and Child: The Emotional Journey" (Fulcrum, 2003) and “Intensive Parenting: Surviving Your Journey Through the NICU” (Fulcrum, 2013). 

The metaphor is of a tapestry. A weaving. 

All our lives, we weave. Whether we intend to or not, we weave. We weave with the strands we are born with; with strands we are given, with ones we choose. Often, we are handed strands we never would have chosen. Instead of the silk and satin, the cotton, the bright colors, the beautiful pattern, the interesting texture, we might be handed burlap or sandpaper or barbed wire. Sometimes, we're handed razor wire. 

We all face times when making sense of the materials we’re holding may feel impossible. Whether as therapists working with heartbreaking losses and traumas or parents struggling to survive them, we can be overwhelmed with how difficult it is to work with these unwelcome, often snarled layers of painful threads. 

No matter how long I work with bereaved and traumatized families, their capacity to hold and treasure those searing threads until they are integrated, held firmly inside, woven, and honored, never fails to humble and guide me. This therapeutic process with its layers of loss but especially its depth and process of making meaning continually shine a light on so many other areas of life, both clinical and personal. Working with these families is the most meaningful work that I do.

As a therapist working with families facing heartbreaking loss and trauma, I’ve worked to bring the experiences of bereaved and traumatized families (and neurobiological approaches to smooth the worst of the razor wire and facilitate weaving) into the mainstream of perinatal mental health (PMH) and to raise trauma therapists’ awareness of PMH and perinatal trauma. My mission has been to weave these clinical, experiential, and treatment strands together so that we have a stronger, wider net with which to catch the bereaved and traumatized families who need our support.  

I am a trainer for the trauma treatment I use as my organizing lens: Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR), which is a comprehensive and integrative treatment model. I teach therapists who work with bereaved and traumatized families EMDR and already trained EMDR therapists to recognize and treat perinatal trauma. 

To honor the journey each family travels is to say, ‘I honor each of these threads inside and around you, no matter how sharp or discordant, and will join with you as you learn to weave with them.’ 

Mara Tesler Stein, Psy.D., EMDRIA Approved Consultant and Trainer
Founder and Director
The Touchstone Institute for Psychotherapy and Training  

For Contact Information, please visit PLIDA Members Directory