On the loss of a Postpartum Pioneer: Ilyene Barsky

No matter what words follow, none could ever hope to encompass the driving and endlessly inspiring passion of Ilyene Barksy.

Just a few short hours ago, I learned that Ilyene has left us here. She has crossed her final bridge and is finally resting. Ilyene struggled with lung cancer for quite some time. Those closer to her are privy to those details.

As I feel driven to write about her here, my eyes are filling with tears, my heart is breaking and aching for  the loss which has hit so many, including myself, so very hard. We knew it would be inevitable but it does not make these words or this post any easier to write. It does not make the pain any softer. It’s akin to bracing yourself for a car accident. The stiffer you are once the other vehicle hits you, the more pain you feel in the days after.

I never had the pleasure of meeting Ilyene in person.

She served as the Postpartum Support Coordinator for the state of Florida as well as the Southeast Regional Coordinator. It was through these capacities I got to know Ilyene.

I searched through my email tonight for my correspondences with Ilyene.

It wasn’t the eleven emails we tossed back and forth as we coordinated care for a client of hers between Georgia and Florida that tugged at my heart.

The email that got me was one I sent to her after a Regional call with the Coordinators here in the Southeast.

It read:

“During tonight’s call, my 23 month old son woke up. He was fussy and upset, using his “pain” cry too. (We’ve all had some form of upper respiratory issue here lately) I got him up and brought him into the living room after administering some motrin.  Prior to leaving I had put the call on mute and popped it onto speaker. When we got in the living room, he fussed and kept looking over at the phone. He continued to fuss until he heard YOUR voice. Calmed him right down. I don’t even remember what you were saying or at what point in the call it was but the sound of your voice got him calmed down enough to where I was able to put him back to bed just a few seconds after you finished talking.

I just had to share with you. Thought you’d get a kick out of reading this! (And thanks, by the way! lol!)


I remember that night. My son was particularly fussy. Everyone on the call was chatting back and forth. But then Ilyene piped up to say something. He immediately stopped his fussing and stared at the phone. It was as if Ilyene had worked some magic spell on him through the phone.


If she could do that on the phone with a sick, fussy, grumpy almost two year old, I can only imagine how she must have been as a therapist in person.

And now, I’m saying goodbye to someone I never met but truly was one of my mentors as I navigated my first few years as a peer support advocate and Coordinator with Postpartum Support International.

Within that batch of emails regarding client care coordination, Ilyene asked if we had ever met and if I would be at the L.A. Conference. I was unable to make it to the L.A. Conference but as many of you know, I made it to Pittsburgh this year. Ilyene did not.

Ilyene, I made it to a conference. I got to finally spend a week soaking up everything Postpartum which did not exist when you started your journey of helping others through PSI back in 1987. I got to go.

And one of these days in the very distant future, I know we’ll meet each other. It won’t be quite the way either of us planned, but  I know it will be awesome.

Ilyene, you have been a huge part of what we, as Coordinators across the globe are doing these days. Because of you, because of Jane, because of Karen, and all the other early pioneers who so intuitively saw the desperate need for new moms who struggled with Postpartum Mood Disorders, we are here. Because of you, we are moving forward. You will be with us as we continue to reach out to struggling moms and their families.

There is a flame within the hearts of those of us who work closely with mothers and families struggling with Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders. You are part of that flame for so many.

I, and many others, will never let that flame go out.

Thank you, Ilyene, for your mentoring, your warm heart, your caring nature, and for being you. You too, are a “peach.”

We all love you deeply and miss you more than we can ever possibly express.

(If you are not familiar with Ilyene, visit her website at The Center for Postpartum Adjustment)


3 thoughts on “On the loss of a Postpartum Pioneer: Ilyene Barsky

  1. Pingback: Ilyene Barsky – a woman with a mission « Vanessa Brooks CEO Blog

  2. I am so sorry and shocked to hear of Ilyene’s passing. She was my therapist here in S. FL and she was absolutely instrumental in helping me make it through those dark, dark days.

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