Facilitators & Volunteers

Karla Helbert
Karla facilitates our bereavement support group each third Monday of the month for  parents grieving the death of a child at any age, of any cause. Karla found the MISS Foundation online while searching for help as she planned her son's funeral, an experience no parent should ever have to live through. In that search, she found a support network, both in the Richmond MISS Chapter and through the MISS Foundation's online support groups. These were a life-line following the death of her son Theo from a rare and aggressive brain tumor. She embraces the concept of grief as love and the experience of grief after the death of a dearly loved child as a natural, normal and healthy response. Grief can be seen as a learning and growth process, rather than something we need to heal from. "When I realized that I did  not have to 'heal,' it was as if a weight was lifted from my heart," she says. Karla tries daily to practice wholehearted growth and living, while integrating the grief, the pain, and, in all ways, the love for her child into her life and who she is now in this new reality. Providing a safe space, non-judgmental support and heartful compassion for others grieving the death of a child is a deeply important part of Karla's own way of living with grief.  

Karla has facilitated support groups for Richmond parents grieving the deaths of their precious children since 2008. She is also an award winning author, a certified yoga instructor, reiki practitioner, and a licensed psychotherapist with a private practice in Richmond. Karla is a MISS Foundation Certified Compassionate Bereavment Care Provider, speicalizing in the art of traumatic grief counseling. She lives in Richmond with her husband Jamie and their fabulous daughter Lula, born two years after the death of her brother.

Linda Zaffram
Linda facilitates our early miscarriage group held every first Wednesday of each month. 
Linda has been in the behavioral health field since 2003. She is a Licensed Clinical Social 
Worker (LCSW). In her Richmond based private psychotherapy practice Healing Circle, Counseling Services, Linda specializes in grief, bereavement, trauma, traumatic birth, depression, anxiety and maternal mental health. She is certified in Birth Story Listening through Birthing From Within, is a professional birth doula with additional training in acupressure for labor, and a certified breastfeeding counselor. Linda has extensive training in working with mothers struggling with many differing post-partum difficulties and she is also a certified MISS Foundation Compassionate Bereavement Care Provider

Linda deeply understands the pain and grief of miscarriage having lived her own experience with miscarriage and traumatic birth due to complications from NAIT--Neonatal Alloimmune Thrombocytopenia--a blood related disease that affects expectant mothers and their babies. She cherishes every day with her children and understands that every moment is precious.  

Amy Mercurio
Amy, mother of James, facilitates our chapter's Pregnancy After a Loss group the second Thursdays of each month. Becoming pregnant, thinking of becoming pregnant, being pregnant after losing a child can elicit emotions ranging from worry to terror. Amy's group allows for a space to process all the feelings inherent in trying to have another child, being pregnant or trying to figure out how to risk your heart once more. 

Jennifer Jurlando
Jennifer is the mother of Thistle, stillborn at 39 weeks. Thistle's loss and the honor of laboring and delivering a stillborn daughter changed Jennifer's life. Her goal is to continue the light of Thistle's brief existence by providing a compassionate and hopeful space for grieving families.

Jennifer has shared Thistle's birth story with groups of care providers and as a part of Susan Singer's Beyond Barbie series. She has participated in panel discussions to provide a parent and a facilitator's perspective. She is passionate about bringing infant loss into a public forum that helps to remove the stigma experienced by grieving parents.

Christy Smith
Picture and bio soon to come!