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GriefSPEAK: AI grief glasses. Would you put them on? – Mari Nardolillo Dias

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by Mari Nardolillo Dias, EdD

I am not usually a fan of “cover bands”.  As a teen of the 1960’s I want to hear the real thing. You know the ones – they “cover” or perform songs from other artists. However, at my age many of the original “greats” have passed on, i.e. Petty, Cobain, Prince, etc. I have no other choice but to be satisfied with those that cover the greats.

Sometimes, the cover artist resembles the original artist, as in the case of the one-man Purple Piano,  Marshall Charloff. Not only did Marshall sound like Prince, but he was also close to being his doppelgänger. A small, young man in both stature and physique who played piano and sang the roof off of the Norwood Theater.

I thought: “What if there were ‘covers’ for those who have passed?” A doppelganger of a loved one. How might we react? I suspect when we notice someone in a crowd that resembles a loved one who has passed, we forget to exhale, and our hearts seem to stop dead. It’s a gnawing feeling. Bittersweet. I don’t think I would like to have someone “cover” my brother Bobby or my father, nor all the friends who are now gone. But…

There is always AI (artificial intelligence). Technology has entered the world of grief by providing us with a pair of glasses. These glasses allow us to virtually see and hear those who have passed. In their own voices, cadence, inflections. With these “grief glasses” we can hold a conversation as well, yet we have no control over what they might say to us. Yes? No? Many tell me that the idea is “terrifying” and they would never take the opportunity to engage in this. They cannot seem to explain why, but their facial expressions say it all. But why do these same people enjoy/believe in mediums? Perhaps it is more palatable to “feel” the presence, and trust the telepathic nature, rather than a “cover” of their loved ones.

Yes, I adored Prince. My adolescent bedroom walls were covered with Prince posters. I cried, grieved, when he died. Charloff’s Purple Piano proved to be a thrill. The lyrics again ignited my soul, and if I squinted just a tad, I could convince myself it was Prince. I don’t think i would want to run into my dad’s cover at the grocery store. Thoughts?

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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.

Dias 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:  //gracepointegrief.com/ Dr. Dias is the author of GriefSpeak

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