Tell us about your career and personal background. 

My journey has unfolded in extraordinary ways, taking me to the most unexpected places I never imagined. As a Certified Advanced Grief Recovery Specialist, I have been granted the profound privilege of guiding individuals on a transformative path, helping them rediscover their true selves after experiencing loss, and reigniting their capacity for joy, playfulness, and embracing the beauty of life again. This healing process is built upon four pillars that form the foundation of my approach: Explorative Travel, Meditative Awareness, Structured Support, and Creative Play.

I have been called a “tour guide of grief”, walking alongside individuals on their unique journeys and providing them with accurate knowledge about a subject that is often misinformed or shrouded in silence. In doing so, I strive to infuse levity into the process, bringing a much-needed lightness to a subject that connects us all.

I am also a life and business coach, and meditation guide, aiding individuals in reaching their personal and professional aspirations. By aiding others in quieting the mind, I empower them to delve inward and discover the answers that reside within themselves through presence and heightened awareness. I firmly believe that meditation is for everyone and holds the potential to benefit every individual.

One facet of my services that brings me so much joy is my role as a Play Facilitator! Drawing upon my background in theater and Improv, I integrate unique techniques into my coaching methodologies, infusing personal development with a delightful sense of playfulness. I have often sent clients on scavenger hunts, self-dates, and more. 

Around the world, I host workshops on play and mindfulness, that foster creativity and forge connections in schools, corporations, and events across the globe. Often, I am sought after to speak at functions on this subject and orchestrate games that warmly welcome and engage the audience, leaving each participant with a profoundly meaningful experience.

Describe one of your favorite travel experiences. 

There are two that hold a special place in my heart. The first, an endeavor born out of heartbreak and loss, compelled me to embark on a solitary journey to Sicily, Italy in 2004, where I joined a tomb excavation for a month. I was terrified! In an era before the dominance of social media, I found myself standing on the precipice of change—afraid of flying, lacking connections, and uncertain of what lay ahead. Yet, an even greater fear gripped me—the fear of allowing life to stagnate in the comfort of my home. Stepping into the unknown, I spent a transformative month surrounded by kindred spirits from all walks of life who became lifelong friends. In that precious window of time, I not only discovered fragments of myself but also experienced profound personal growth that I wholeheartedly attribute to that formative trip. It was incredible. 

Today, I am honored to assist others in taking their own inaugural steps into the realm of travel, whether it’s meeting them to plan their next adventure or curating transformative retreats overseas or at home. I firmly believe in Explorative travel which can mean physically or internally traveling to gain a deeper sense of self.

My second favorite travel experience— After the untimely passing of my beloved sister Nina, at the age of 47, I hosted my first sailing retreat overseas. She was the first person to sign up and her seat remained empty in honor of her. Laden with my sister’s ashes, I carried her spirit with me as I ventured to the coast of the Croatian island of Korcula. It was a place that held deep significance for both of us, a cherished memory from a trip we had embarked on together. As if she had planned it, everyone fell asleep on the boat and I got to captain and sail for two hours. The moment was perfect, she was there with me as I scattered her remains, creating a memory that has become an invaluable treasure.

What drew you toward grief support?

After Nina had died, I found a program that healed the pain of the unresolved grief I was carrying. Things left unsaid and unheard. Hope and dreams. It was exactly what I needed at the time, and even though I was skeptical going in, it worked. I later took the training to deepen my knowledge and offer the program to others to show them that there IS beauty on the other side of grief. I wish more people knew that taking the time to ask for help and heal that pain is one of the best things you can do for yourself and all the relationships around you. I have the privilege of bearing witness to people’s transformations through the program, to watch a shroud of resentment, anger, and numbness dissipate so they can live and love fully in life. I honor my sister in this work. 

What are some tips for individuals who may be grieving?

Empowering those who are grieving with invaluable insights and guidance is a crucial aspect of my work. As individuals navigate the intricate landscape of grief, I hope to impart knowledge that challenges long-held beliefs, and misinformation. It is imperative for them to recognize that grief encompasses a vast spectrum.  In fact, there are more than 40 distinct types of losses that can lead to unresolved grief, ranging from the loss of a beloved pet to the dissolution of a marriage, the upheaval of a career, the erosion of one’s identity, the sting of betrayal, and myriad others. Each of these losses elicits a unique and deeply personal experience of pain. It is vital for individuals to understand that grief is not solely born from death but can emerge from a multitude of life’s experiences and that each of these pains is unique and 100% felt by the griever. 

I also want to express that grieving should not be a solitary journey. I urge individuals to lean on their support networks and seek solace in the company of understanding hearts. Grief needs to be witnessed to heal. Moreover, I endeavor to dispel the notion that grief follows a linear trajectory, for it is far from a straight path. Instead, it ebbs and flows like the waves of an ocean, ever-changing and often catching us off guard. It is my firm belief that no one has the authority to dictate how an individual should grieve. The process is intensely personal and unique to each person’s circumstances, emotions, and healing journey. Embracing this truth empowers individuals to honor their own needs and experiences, allowing grief to unfold authentically and organically.

As a part of the Global Sisterhood … tell Inspiring Lives Magazine what the word “sisterhood” means to you. 

To me, the word “sisterhood” embodies a profound bond and connection among women that transcends biological ties. When my sister Nina died, I had to find a new way of thinking about sisterhood. I felt so much support around me that I never realized was there before, and I am so grateful to the women who surround my life and those I meet along the way. To me sisterhood signifies a collective sense of unity, support, nurturing, love, and empowerment.

Describe what makes you an empowered woman.

I think that I embrace the unknown and forge ahead fearlessly, without knowing where my path will lead no matter what. I try to trust my intuition, I venture into life’s diverse experiences and navigate through uncomfortable events and situations. This is what I believe makes me an empowered woman, and is also one of my super powers! While I may not have always perceived myself as fearless, reflecting on the remarkable achievements I’ve accomplished, the meaningful connections I’ve fostered, the lives I’ve positively impacted, and the indelible footprints I’ve left behind, it becomes evident that I am truly an empowered woman which allows me to have a deep sense of self-love and confidence that pours from my cup into others to inspire and uplift them on their own journey.

What are you most proud of?

The ability to make my sister laugh, distract her, and share moments of play and song during her chemo treatments and final weeks. It is this experience that fuels my deep appreciation for the significance of playfulness and lightness in the face of pain. I strive to bring this transformative power to others who are suffering, distracted, or have simply forgotten how important it is to play and infuse their lives with joy and healing through lighthearted connections. I am also proud of being able to ask the uncomfortable questions to forge more meaningful conversations in life.

What is the importance of solo travel?

My solo travels have served as a wellspring of inspiration and personal growth, leading me to the fulfilling work I engage in today. Guided by the belief that every experience is a journey, I encourage individuals to venture beyond their comfort zones, whether through physical exploration of the world or the introspective journey of self-discovery. Fortified  by a wealth of diverse experiences, and driven by an unwavering commitment to empower others, I am wholeheartedly dedicated to leaving a lasting impact on the lives of all those I encounter and inspire others to take their first or 100th journey! 

I advocate for everyone to take time to adventure alone, it has the capacity to open the mind and heart. When you are truly alone you find out more about who you are than ever before in your life. You feel inspired and empowered. You answer to nobody, probably for the first time in your life. You don’t have to compromise or conform. You get to know the real YOU. Things become clearer, your North Star shines brighter. It can seem intimidating and scary, but I tell individuals that It doesn’t have to be a huge overseas trip. Take baby steps. It can be as simple as going out alone in your hometown to a museum or new cafe. One of my favorite mantras to my clients is  “Date Yourself!”

How can we best comfort a person going through grief?

During times of grief, individuals often feel isolated and overwhelmed, making even simple tasks seem insurmountable. Asking for help can also be challenging, as they may fear burdening others. In such situations, it is invaluable to offer specific acts of kindness and support. For instance, you can ask, “Can I mow your lawn?” or “Can I come over and watch a movie with you?” Alternatively, you can drop off a thoughtfully prepared meal or groceries at their front door, as a simple yet meaningful gesture. Also a funny meme or text also helps lighten dark days. It may seem like a small gesture, but it helps them feel less alone.

Equally important is the role of being a compassionate listener. Instead of trying to fix their grief, it is often more powerful to be a big-hearted presence for them. Allow them the space to express their emotions without judgment or interruption. You can cry alongside them or provide a comforting presence that allows them to freely express their emotions. Sometimes, the most profound support is found in silence and being fully present with them in their pain.

What is next for you, Marta? 

I am so excited for this year’s sailing retreats that await me, as well as the prospect of embarking on solo travels once again. I have been hosting MOTM Experiences for three years now and each venture fills me with excitement and anticipation, as they offer opportunities for personal growth, rejuvenation, and new friends!

Simultaneously, having no children of my own, I find myself on a transformative journey to reimagine motherhood according to my own unique perspective. My husband and I are Bigs in Big Brothers Big Sisters of Pittsburgh which gives us tremendous joy. It also helps in assisting adults in reconnecting with their inner child, I aim to facilitate a profound exploration of their own identities and experiences. Moreover, I am passionately involved in developing an educational program tailored for adults, empowering them to effectively communicate with children during periods of loss and grief.

Through these endeavors, I aspire to challenge conventional notions of motherhood and forge new pathways of understanding and connection. I am driven by the desire to make a lasting impact on individuals’ lives, both young and old, fostering healing, growth, and deepening relationships.

As a solo traveler at heart, I am also very excited to take my first solo trip since 2019 this August!

Marta Napoleone Mazzoni is an Advanced Grief Recovery Specialist, Life/Business Coach, Meditation Guide, award winning podcast host, best selling author and Play Facilitator. She strives to help individuals rediscover themselves and the beauty and joy of life after loss.