Black and white photo of men carrying a casket.

GriefSPEAK: Black fascination – Mari Nardolillo Dias

By: Mari Nardolillo Dias, contributing writer

“Excuse my black fascination. Can you hold a thought of final destination? …Please don’t mind my temptation, excuse my black fascination.” Dean Petrella (Distractions).

Death is the last ‘bad” word. Many are terrified of the thought of dying; some look forward to the transition. Looking forward to seeing those that have passed. Meet God.

I am an unreliable narrator of my own story.

At a corner table in the back of my mind I find myself waiting for echoes. Echoes of the past that seem elusive until I sit at that corner table. There they flood my eyes – I drink a pint of them. Soothes the throat. I can taste the bitter and the subtle sweetness of them. I engage in shadow diving, looking to go back in space and time to a day. To a place. I hear the trumpets of the unforgiving triumphs when I am interrupted with the feel of the leathered feather of a small death. It tickles me. Beckons me. Tries to lure me away from the table. From the echoes. From the shadows.

The leathered feather is bleak and black, smooth, hard. Cold. Teasing me. Reminding me that my death is predictable, penetrating and perturbing. Ironically, I am one who fears death. Despite my work with death and dying I am terrified of dying – not due to pain, or lack of faith in the “hereafter”. Just a wonton want to live.

I want to know the date of my death. Then I could plan. I loathe surprises of all kinds. I run from the idea of a surprise death. I don’t want a peaceful death. To die in my sleep. Unaware. Unprepared. I need to be ready. I beg for an organized series of symptoms that follow a fatal diagnosis. A plan. No surprises. I want my dying to progress in incidental increments. I need to get weaker, tired, and ready. Surprises make me anxious. I panic. Anxiety chokes me. The unknowing pierces my ear canals to a high pitched wail…  So, death, do not surprise me. I hold thoughts of my final destination. I do have a black fascination. For a slow, steady, predictable death.

As I sit at the corner table in the back of my mind I invite the echoes, the shadows, and the unforgiving triumphs’ to remain; however, it is the leathered feather of death that irritates my skin and distracts me from the table but flirts with my black fascination.


To read more articles for RINewsToday by Mari Nardolillo Dias, go here:

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:


Dias is the author of GriefSPEAK, Vols. I and II

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