GriefSPEAK: Valentine’s wonder for broken hearts – Mari Nardolillo Dias 

By: Dr. Mari Nardolillo Dias 

Pamela’s mother passed this week, and her 50-something year old husband is in hospice care with a fatal disease. He doesn’t have too much longer. One might think that Pam has a broken heart, with one death and an upcoming one. A broken, bleeding heart for Valentine’s Day.  

Pamela surprised me with her texts concerning signs from her mom. Mom’s name was Ann and always signed her name as “Queen Ann of England, Scotland and Ireland.” The first story Pamela saw the morning after her mother’s death was “this day in history… Ann, Queen of England, Scotland and Ireland….” And then, the Facebook posts that pop up arbitrary “Memories you posted 5 years ago”, a picture of mom, and indicating the date of her mother’s death. 

Pamela’s texts went on to state, “I really, really cannot believe it… I mean, I do! But wow, I am blown away, away, away!  Even my husband Mark can no longer deny the existence of some kind of presence after death. “Really?… Really?… Looking all perplexed…wow!” gasped Mark. 

The most significant sign came from Pamela’s dying husband.  

Minutes after this text I received another. “OMG… another one just happened! I am sitting next to Mark, and he says he has been getting a strange feeling. Shaking and chills. He said he feels like “Ann wants me to hug you for her!” So, Mark and Pamela hugged.  

I have been working on and off with both Pamela and Mark. I know Mark to be a denier. We’ve had conversations about a sign or word that would be a sign from him to Pamela after his death. “There is nothing after death. I cannot communicate after my death!”  Pamela’s most recent signs have impacted on him, particularly because he “had the strange feeling as well.”  

“OMG! Mark, being so close to death – my mom is using him!” exclaimed Pam. Mark has become Ann’s medium. Pamela has reframed her current situation. For now, it seems fortuitous that Mom has passed, and Mark is so close to death that he can communicate with both the living and the dead. 

This is certainly not the first time I’ve witnessed someone communicate with both the living and the dead. It is, however, the most significant one as it has filled Pamela’s heart with love, appreciation, and wonder.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all hearts, full or broken. 


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 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: