In the same way families and individuals may seek support welcoming a new life into the world, grieving is a process better traversed with the help of a caring counselor. This is a fact Dr. Mari Nardolillo Dias, director of GRACEPOINTE GRIEF CENTER, knows intimately. A thanologist – or specialist in death and dying – and certified counselor and death doula, Mari is no stranger to bereavement and end-of-life care.
“I am a mortician’s daughter who learned to read on my father’s lap by phonetically sounding out words when reading obituaries,” Mari shares, explaining how every facet of her life has brought her to this unique path of ferrying others through the uncharted waters of loss. “I’m often referred to as ‘the grief whisperer.’ I believe in signs, life after death, and life before life. I am always humbled to be at the bed- side of an actively dying client. A death is much like a birth.”
Holding certificates in both grief counseling and complicated grief, Mari (with the help of therapy dog Mercy, a mini bernedoo- dle) offers a “concierge” or direct service model of individual and group sessions to meet clients where they are. This may include multiple sessions or house calls working with them through a range of needs, whether it’s concerning grief and loss (death or non- death related) or end-of-life support. Serving people of all ages, Mari uses proven methods based on cognitive and emotional de- velopment to tailor her approach to the individual.
“I don’t think I chose death; death chose me,” says Mari – but she took that calling and made it her life’s work. Always expanding her knowledge, Mari holds a MA in Counseling and doctorate in Educa- tional Leadership as well as several related certificates, is an active member of a wide range of counseling services, is currently working on earning her psychological autopsy certificate, and even traveled to the University of Zululand in South Africa as a Fulbright specialist.
Mari’s community involvement has earned her a North Kingstown Town Hero Award, North Kingstown Chamber of Commerce Award, and Jefferson Award for public service. She serves on the board of directors for local nonprofits Lindsay Ann Burke Memorial Fund and Elizabeth Buffum Chace Center. As a full professor at Johnson & Wales University, she has also been the recipient of several academic accolades.
But Mari’s work doesn’t stop there. The author of two books – GriefSPEAK: Stories of Loss, Volumes 1 and 2, sharing her clients’ inspirational stories – Mari is currently penning a third: Grief Through the Eyes of Mercy, a dog’s perspective of grief. She’s also a member of the Association of RI Authors.
At the end of the day, Mari is proud to be a part of her clients’ lives during these formative moments, offering an empathetic, warm, and insightful presence. “I provide dignity and respect at the end of life and hold the hand of each of my grievers as a sherpa, as we walk through this grief journey,” she says. Through public speaking and en- gagement, Mari is forging paths for people to talk about and process traumatic grief that stems from suicide, homicide, and sudden death.
Mari offers words of wisdom anyone can take to heart: “Live with- out regrets, be prepared for your story to be rewritten, and speak your grief. If you don’t talk about your sadness, anger, numbness, guilt, and relief, it will manifest itself in physical and psychological ways.” Thankfully, with Mari’s personalized care services at Grace- Pointe Grief Center, no one has to navigate those waters alone.
75 Fishing Cove Road, North Kingstown, 401-659-4188, GracePointeGrief.com
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