A gift basket with a teddy bear in it.

GriefSPEAK: What do Easter and Grief have in common? – Mari Nardolillo Dias

By: Mari Nardolillo Dias, contributing writer

According to Fr. Michael Rennier, “On a day like Easter, the world is brimming over with new life. Megan Devine adds: “The language of death and resurrection is going to find its way to your ears. Despite your religious beliefs, everyone knows the story of Easter. Jesus is crucified on Friday. Saturday grievers reel from the loss. Sunday, Jesus rises from the death. “Saturday is all about pain. Those of us who are in deep pain, we are Saturday people. “

My dear friend, David, is a Saturday person this Easter. His mom, Mother N, passed on March 25th. Catherine was a lovely woman and David a devoted son. I knew this Easter would be difficult for him, as will Mother’s Day. In an effort to do something special and provide a new memory associated with all future Easters, I decided on a nontraditional Easter basket. “A grief basket – one whose contents would provide solace, companionship, and peace. A candle called a “Hug in a Jar”, a wind chime of the tree of life, teas, socks, a few books, a comfy little stuffed animal that, when heated, warms him. Also included is an ocean soap, monogrammed personalized note cards, “Message” rocks, and of course, candy. David has a considerable sweet tooth and thus several collector chocolates, along with all the fixings for pumpkin cake and a monogrammed kitchen towel can also be found. I purchased a considerably large white, hand woven basket (certainly not designed for my purposes!) but it worked well. I had a wooden rabbit name Tag made with David’s name painted on it and lamented using the traditional “grass”- it makes a mess. Google has been a good friend, because when I googled “Easter basket grass alternatives, I found edible grass!

The final item, meant for Mother’s Day, is Willowtree Mother and Son statue.

I believe I am more excited for David to undress this basket than he is! He was astounded when he saw it, and beyond grateful.  He brought it out of state to his hometown to open with his family.

I hope my wishes of gratitude and hope encourage David to slowly move out as a Saturday person and eventually rejoice in the resurrection on Easter and his memory and legacy of Mother N.


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, Vol. 1: Stories of Loss