GriefSpeak: A Christmas Story: Do You Believe? – Dr. Mari Dias

By: Dr. Mari Dias

A Christmas Story: Do You Believe?

“Some of us are given many signs, yet many refuse to believe them”

When Patricia’s father fell and broke his hip this Fall, she was reminded of her mother’s identical injury, along with the subsequent, anticipated problems that led to mom’s death. Patricia was very concerned about Dad, particularly with the added concern of COVID. She struggled to anticipate a more favorable outcome for dad’s surgery and rehabilitation and prayed that COVID did not visit Dad in the hospital or in a rehab facility. Based on the Department of Health statistics, Patricia knew she needed some intervention in the hopes that the best outcome would occur.

Dad had survived cardiac arrest and lived to tell the tale of his NDE (near death experience). Now Patricia encouraged all her social media friends and family to join her in prayer for her father’s safe recovery.

Fortunately, Dad, despite his age and his “comorbidities” successfully made it through the surgery without a hint of COVID or of mom’s struggles. Patricia took her dad home to convalesce at her house, in a welcoming recliner so that he might keep his feet elevated. She was quite aware of the additional pages of obituaries in the Providence Journal every week. It seemed that Christmas heralded an exponentially high percentage of deaths. She did all she could to ensure that Dad’s picture would not be included in the obituaries. Not now.

Patricia kept her dad warm and comfortable. She made his favorite dishes and was thankful for every day she had with this man, the father she loved. Dad had visiting nurses, and although she welcomed the help, she saw herself as the main constant in dad’s life.

Just yesterday, Patricia received a text from the visiting nurse indicating she would be by to check on dad around noon; however, Patricia was “visibly shaken” when she noted that the text from the visiting nurse indicated by the profile picture and the phone number was from her deceased mother! How could this be? She shared a screen shot on social media that verified her experience. There it was, a clear picture of her mom, noting that “MOM” is calling. Yet the message was from the visiting nurse.

Was it a sign? Was it a coincidence? Or was it otherworldly? Patricia pursued this mystery and determined that (1) she had kept mom on her cell phone contact list and (2) she had her mom’s phone shut off over a year ago! Well, “wonder of wonders”, the visiting nurse purchased a new cell phone about the same time Patricia had her mom’s cell turned off. The visiting nurse inherited Patricia’s mom’s cell phone number! Obviously, when the visiting nurse texted Patricia, it came up as “mom” as she had not deleted that contact. Mystery solved? Or simply a bizarre coincidence? Or something else?

Last evening Patricia woke in the middle of the night with panic and concern. She had forgotten to drape a blanket over dad as he slept in the recliner. She was the only one home besides him, so she got up out of bed, but when she checked on dad she found him, snoring and comfortably warm with a blanket wrapped around him. Patricia felt bad, envisioning her father’s attempt to maneuver himself out of the chair to retrieve a blanket for himself. She was remiss – but nevertheless he was warm and apparently unharmed by his short journey to garner a blanket.

This morning, when both were awake, Patricia thought it serendipitous that “Little Drummer Boy” was playing on the radio. It was her mom’s favorite Christmas song. Patricia apologized to her dad.

“Dad, I’m sorry I forgot to blanket you. I’m extra sorry you had to get up to find a blanket yourself.”

Dad replied: “Not to worry Patricia, I didn’t get up off the recliner. I would be afraid I would fall.”


Dr. Mari Dias is a nationally board-certified counselor, holds a Fellow in Thanatology and is certified in both grief counseling and complicated grief. Dias is a Certified death doula, and has a Certificate in Psychological Autopsy.

She is Professor of Clinical Mental Health, Master of Science program, Johnson & Wales University. Dias is the director of GracePointe Grief Center, in North Kingstown, RI.  For more information, go to:

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