Monday, April 25, 2011

In memory of a young midwife

This is Briana Blackwelder, a 28 year old midwife and good friend of my sister, who was killed in a car accident this weekend.

I was lucky enough to get to meet her just a few months ago, en route to Portland, when we stopped in Provo and stayed the night with family. My sister is working on a documentary film project about adoption, which I mentioned in this post a ways back. Kate is in DC, but since I was stopping through, this meant that 4 out of 4 interview subjects would be in the same city for the blink of an eye, so she arranged for us to meet and Skyped herself into what was a wonderful conversation between us all - my mom, a birth mother; myself, a relinquished child; Kate's friend Ashley, a birthmother-to-be; and Briana, Ashley's midwife. This was all caught on film, and editing is underway.

After the conversation, I got to chat with Briana for a bit longer, talking about my hopes of attending Birthingway and about some of her own experiences, and I truly looked forward to getting to know her more in the future. Hindsight often magnifies these fleeting things, especially when tragedy and grief are involved, but I don't think it is any exaggeration to say that this was a truly extraordinary person whose genuine vocation as a midwife emanated from her very being. In addition to the inexpressible loss her family is suffering, the world of midwifery has experienced a huge loss as well.

I'm reposting the Vimeo video from my previous post about the film; it focuses on Ashley, but in the process, you get to see Briana in action for an all-too-brief moment, starting at about 4:30. An all-too-brief moment in an all-too-brief life.

Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom from Neil Ransom on Vimeo.

When Kate's film is finished, we'll be able to see her interview footage, and I very much look forward to hearing everything she has to say. I'll share this with you as soon as it's available.

Please take a moment to hold her in your thoughts or your prayers or in whatever way you honor the departed.

Memorial services will be held on Wednesday in Salt Lake City
, if you're a local.


  1. This is tragic. I can only imagine how much wisdom she would have amassed in this profession and what good she would have done for her clients. My thoughts are with her loved ones.

  2. Breaks my hear to hear of a wonderful person gone far too soon. :(

  3. So sad. Love to her friends and family.

  4. This is so sad. She was my instructor at Midwives College of Utah and we are all mourning a wonderful and inspirational woman. May peace be with her family and all of the families she has served.

  5. Briana was truly an exceptional woman - the kind of person who brightens every room she walks into. She was a close friend of my daughter, Kate. We saw her just a few weeks before she died at a birth celebration for one of the babies she delivered that was placed with a loving infertile couple. Birth mom and the soon-to-be family were there with many friends and family members. It was an occasion of many joyful tears, sharing the bittersweetness of it all. The bittersweetness of life. Briana was there with her bright happy spirit, as always, and I feel so lucky that I got to see her one last time.

    Mom of five amazing humans,
    including Anne of Dou-la-la fame
    and Kate Kelly, one of my heros

  6. What a terribly sad thing, and such a loss for the midwifery community and birthing women there.

    Thank you for honoring her life.

  7. This is a video Neil & I made dedicated to Bri.