Bethany Conkel and Maria Elkins

Bethany Conkel

Bethany entered the loss world in 2012 after saying hello and goodbye to her precious son, Amalya Nathaniel Conkel. Amalya was diagnosed with anencephaly (a neural tube defect where the skull and brain do not form completley) at 11 weeks 2 days gestation. Bethany and her husband, Eric, made the choice to continue the pregnancy and carry Amalya full term with as much love as possible. Amalya was delivered via C-section at 37 weeks and lived for 1 hour and 20 minutes before taking hold of the Lord's hand.

After walking through loss herself, Bethany began connecting with other families who had experienced loss. In 2014 Bethany became a certified Birth and Bereavement Doula through Stillbirthday and made the choice to serve with Sufficient Grace Ministries. In 2016 Bethany became a Regional Coordinator with Sufficient Grace Ministries and gained her SGM Comfort Doula certification and Bereavement Photographer certification in 2017.

Bethany's experience with loss also helped her develop into a writer. Bethany has written for the blog, All That Love Can Do, as well as for The Mighty. Her writing has been featured on Yahoo! and her story shared on Daily Mail. Bethany also shared her story in Sarah Gray's book, A Life Everlasting, and is a contributing author in Amie Lands' book, Our Only Time.

Bethany also is very active in the world of organ donation and runs a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization called Purposeful Gift, founded in 2013 in honor of her son and his donations. Bethany has spoken over 20 times throughout the United States on the topic of neonatal donation. She has also helped several organ procurement organizations create neonatal donor programs, and has assisted hundreds of families considering donation options. Bethany had the priviledge of riding on the Donate Life Float in the 2015 Tournament Of Roses in Pasedena, California, representing neonatal donation and donation for research.

Maria Elkins

Maria is Bethany's mom. She walked with Bethany through the loss of her firstborn son and then through the grieving and healing that came in the following years. In 2015 she suffered her own loss when her husband of 34 years, Dave, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. Instantly, her world changed. After watching the grieving process from a secondhand vantage point and then walking through it firsthand herself, she has become even more dedicated towards encouraging others who are facing big losses in their own life.

When Bethany came up with the idea of writing A Momma's Heart: Comfort for Loss Moms, Maria immediately wanted to jump on board to assist in bringing Bethany's vision to life. They collaborated on how to integrate Bethany's photos with her drawings to create beautiful works of art that would enhance Bethany's prose and also stand on their own.

Maria was a pastor's wife for 24 years, serving alongside her husband at Calvary Chapel in Dayton, Ohio. She has enjoyed drawing and crafts from childhood. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in printmaking, and she is also an award winning textile artist specializing in portrait quilts. You can see more of  her work at mariaelkins.com.