A man standing on top of a mountain with a tripod.

GriefSPEAK: Kiss today good-bye – Mari Nardolillo Dias

by Mari Nardolillo Dias, EdD, contributing writer

How did you spend your day? Because December 1, 2023, is gone. We will never be as young or as old as we are – today. And… we will never have this particular day again.  Yet, we may have tomorrow.

I’ve met with several “older” clients this week, as well as conducted a seminar entitled “Grief & Loss in Older Adults” for URI Gerontology Series. The 120 attendees indicated the level of concern and interest. This population grieves for many who have passed, as well as the passage of their own lives. We reach an existential precipice. For some it is an abyss. For others, it’s a time to relax, retire. Skim through the days we have left because maybe we have lived a full life and it’s time to coast. 

To what end? Every day is a gift. Why would we waste this gift? Have we had enough days?  Personally, I realized after a very short period of retirement, that without (in my case), work, I have no purpose. I asked myself, “What am I still doing on Terra Ferma? I haven’t contributed anything to my world. Or the world as a whole.” I’d like to leave this world a little bit better than I found it. Which I have. But why stop? Why waste what time I have left?

Unbeknownst to her, today’s client shares my thoughts. She felt purposeless. The inordinate number of deaths she has experienced in the last year is a constant reminder of her own mortality. “How much time do I have left, and what am I going to do with it?” We don’t need to continue to work. There are many choices to continue to give our lives purpose and meaning. Perhaps you are a volunteer. Maybe you are a grandmother whose existence and company serves an important role in the life/lives of your grandchildren. A mom or dad to adult children who struggle. Is that how you spent today?

You all are well aware of my mantra, “Mari, if you were to die today, are you doing what you want to do on your last day on earth? 

The meaning of life is to give your life meaning. Life is so tenuous. We may make a mistake when we put things off – “I’ll do something tomorrow.” Maybe you will. Maybe not. 

Most older adults cannot wait to retire. What they do with their retirement is the key. Some choose to spend it playing tennis, lunching with friends, watching television, and travelling. I am not criticizing those choices, as long as they give your life meaning. Every evening I write in my journal, “Today is gone. Over. How did I spend my day? Because in the end, that’s all we have. Now kiss today good-bye. 


Dr. Mari Nardolillo 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 an Adjunct Professor of Counseling and Psychology at both Johnson & Wales University and Community College of Rhode Island. Dias is the director of GracePointe Grief Center, in North Kingstown, RI.  For more information, go to:


  1. Maureen Maigret on December 1, 2023 at 3:56 pm

    The GEC session Mari did was excellent!