A Conference for Bereaved Parent Advocates

By |2016-10-13T17:08:00+00:00July 20th, 2016|For Professionals, Tips from PAL Moms|0 Comments


So many women and men that have experienced the loss of a child go on to become parent advocates. This is a beautiful thing. After the death of a baby, there is this gloom of isolation; the feeling of being alone in the world while carrying a heavy sorrow. I felt this after Zachary died.

Parent advocates make a difference.

Then, once I started opening up to everyone – and I mean everyone – about the death of my son, I discovered that so many people had also endured the same pain, loneliness, confusion and grief. I was not alone! Sharing my story and being an advocate for others to do the same has become a huge passion of mine – and I am thankful for all the advocates that made a difference for me along my journey.

Parent advocates are those that help others along the grief journey in a variety of ways.

I am also passionate about helping bereaved parents talk about their pregnancies after loss. I know from experience, this is a challenging season and one that people often do not anticipate until they are there. Once you get pregnant after loss, it’s like, “Whoa! I thought I would be happy, and I am, but pregnancy after loss is stressful, anxiety-filled and worry-ridden!”

For me, I encourage bereaved parents, and those pregnant again after loss, through my blog, Wanted Chosen Planned, and my book and film Expecting Sunshine. I also get involved with different organizations like The Compassionate Friends and PLIDA that share the same vision for supporting parents who have lost children in their time of need.

plida logo


For those of you who are not familiar with PLIDA, I would like to introduce you. PLIDA stands for Pregnancy Loss and Infant Death Alliance. They are a very compassionate organization with an empowering mission: “PLIDA supports health care practitioners and parent advocates in their efforts to improve care for families who experience the death of a baby during pregnancy, birth, or infancy.” I have been involved with PLIDA since attending their biennial conference two years ago.

I attended their 2014 conference, called the International Perinatal Bereavement Conference, as a parent advocate. I found myself amidst nurses, counselors, volunteers and other parent advocates like myself. The atmosphere was sympathetic and welcoming. I immediately felt like I was surrounded by people who deeply care about what they do – and that they engage in this work and volunteerism out of love.

International Perinatal Bereavement Conference

The next International Perinatal Bereavement Conference is taking place September 28 to October 1, 2016 in Phoenix Arizona. I will be there. I wouldn’t miss it. If you are a parent advocate, I would encourage you to consider attending. They even have a scholarship available to financially assist professional care providers, parent advocates and researchers.

The conference has all kinds of sessions, key note speakers and mingling time. There is a bookstore with resources and material for anyone who has lost a child and those that support them. Even beyond the scheduled activities, I found an amazing community. I spent time with nurses and counselors who had traveled to the conference from my city. Lasting friendships were formed around the hotel pool at night.

The conference has something for those interested in the topic of pregnancy after loss.

Our very own PALS editor, Lindsey Henke, will be co-presenting a session with Joann O’Leary called: “The Pregnancy that Follows Loss.” Here is the session description:

In this preconference session, O’Leary and Henke review the themes in research and clinical practice that alter the tasks of pregnancy for families pregnant after loss (PAL). Participants will become familiar with current research on continued bond and attachment theories as a foundational model in supporting bereaved parents’ life-long parenting role.

Lindsey will also be giving a poster presentation called: “Pregnancy After Loss Support (PALS) – An Online Magazine and Peer-to-Peer Support for Women Pregnant Again After Loss.”

There are so many sessions to choose from. Some of the other topics include:

  • Creating a legacy
  • Sibling grief
  • Genetic testing
  • How to support families that miscarry
  • Culturally competent perinatal palliative care
  • Mindfulness in caring for others
  • Common misunderstandings around stillbirth
  • Grieving as a caregiver
  • Holistic retreats
  • Pregnancy termination
  • Lactation choices
  • Perinatal loss legislation
  • Mental health

Also, I am honoured to be presenting a workshop called: “Creative Expression to Rejuvenate Bereavement Professionals and Volunteers.” I created this session because I know that those who care for others often do not put their own self-care high on the priority list. Often those that care for bereaved families are individuals who have experienced their own losses as well. Even parent advocates can get burnt out from supporting others. In this informational, hands-on workshop, leadership reserves will be replenished, struggles expressed and grief acknowledged. I will lead participants in art-making and writing exercises, followed by a time of sharing.

How to get involved with PLIDA and the conference

To learn more about PLIDA, please visit their website: http://www.plida.org/

To find out if you want to attend the 20th Biennial International Perinatal Bereavement Conference, and to learn more about the sessions and speakers, check them out online: http://www.perinatalbereavementconference.org/

To apply for a conference scholarship, read more here: http://www.perinatalbereavementconference.org/scholarship/ *NOTE: applications due by August 5, 2016.


Sending you love and strength on your journey of grief and pregnancy after loss.

Alexis Marie Chute

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About the Author:

Alexis Marie Chute
Alexis Marie Chute is an award-winning artist, author and filmmaker. She resides in Alberta, Canada with her husband Aaron and their three living children Hannah, Eden and Luca. Her second-born, Zachary, died at birth from a random cardiac tumor in 2010. Alexis Marie wrote a memoir called Expecting Sunshine about her pregnancy that followed. Through vulnerability and poetic language, she revealed the anxiety-filled anticipation of having a baby after losing a baby. While pregnant with her fourth, Alexis Marie created Expecting Sunshine Documentary to support bereaved yet growing families and educate the public of what pregnancy after loss really looks like. Alexis Marie has her Bachelor of Fine Art in visual art from the University of Alberta and her Masters of Fine Art in creative writing from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. Photo Life Magazine named her an “Emerging Canadian Photographer,” Avenue Magazine included her in their round-up of the Top 40 Under 40, and she was the recipient of the John Poole Award for promotion of the Arts. Alexis Marie was featured in print and video as a Mother-Expert in Today’s Parent Magazine’s Miscarriage and Pregnancy Loss awareness campaign, which won first place at the 38th Annual National Magazine Awards for Best Editorial Package on the Web. Alexis Marie is a highly regarded speaker and has presented on art, writing, bereavement and the healing capacities of creativity around the world. She is widely published in anthologies, newspapers and magazines and her artworks on loss, healing and resiliency have been exhibited across North America. Wanted Chosen Planned is Alexis Marie’s blog about life after the loss of a child. You can follow Alexis Marie on Twitter at both @_Alexis_Marie and @expectsunbook, Facebook at both Always Alexis Marie and Expecting Sunshine, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Tumblr. She can be reached by email, and you can see her work at her websites Alexis Marie Chute, Alexis Marie Art, Alexis Marie Writes, Wanted Chosen Planned, and Expecting Sunshine.

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