EPISODE 86: Finding Purpose in My Son and Husband’s Death with Mary Assel

Welcome to LEAP where we sit down with people from all over the world to hear their transformational stories and perspectives on their grief and loss journeys. 

In this episode, Mary Assel joins me to share her painful and healing story after losing both her husband and son at different points in her life. 

Mary Assel is an accomplished educator, author, and translator. Mary has a BS in Teaching English as a Second Language from LAU—University at Albany, State University of New York, a Masters in teaching English methods, and a doctorate in curriculum design with a concentration on brain science-memory and retention from Wayne State University, Detroit Michigan.

Mary is a Dearborn native and the retired Director of the English Language Institute at Henry Ford College (HFC) in Dearborn, Michigan. She established the institute in the fall of 2001 and worked for Dearborn Public Schools and Henry Ford College from 1989 till her retirement in 2012. She was an instructor, advisor, and director of the English Language Institute at HFC.

In her retirement, Mary spends most of her time traveling, writing, enjoying her children, nine grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. She has authored three books and has translated and published a book from Arabic to English on the poetic work of world-known author Dr. Ali Abdullah Khalifa. She has published and presented articles on domestic violence, second language acquisition, brain/memory/retention, Arab women and culture, and religious barriers. Her presentations have taken place at local colleges, universities, religious organizations, and private institutions around the country. Assel is very active in the interfaith community in Michigan. She is currently translating the Quran from Arabic to English and will be among the first of females worldwide to take on such an endeavor.

But Mary’s life has not been without challenges. In this episode, Mary opens up about her personal struggles, including getting married in an arranged marriage at a young age, realizing she was in love with her husband as she was losing him, and the impact that losing her husband had on her children’s lives. She also shares the heart-wrenching story of her son Mazen’s kidnapping, illness and unexpected death, and how she and her family navigated this difficult time.

Mary talks about losing her connection with her faith and the anger that set in before starting her journey towards healing. She shares the moment of clarity that brought her peace and what she discovered about purpose. Mary also discusses what self-love means to her today and ends the episode by sharing her thoughts on hope.

**TRIGGER WARNING** This episode covers sensitive subject matter and is not suitable for all listeners. If this topic could be a trigger for you, listen to this episode with a friend, a sibling, a loved one or a parent so you can talk about any emotions that come up for you. The contents of this episode are not intended to replace therapy and should not be taken as such. If you need immediate help, please call the crisis hotline listed below in our resources.

Listen in as we talk about:

  • [2:05] Getting married in an arranged marriage at a young age
  • [7:10] Realizing she was in love with her husband as she was losing him
  • [9:25] About her children and how their life was impacted by losing their father
  • [12:15] Her son Mazen’s kidnapping 
  • [13:55] How and when Mazen got sick
  • [25:30] How her kids and grandkids navigated this time in their lives
  • [29:10] Losing her connection with her faith 
  • [35:20] Buying time to save her son
  • [37:25] When and how the anger set in for Mary
  • [39:10] Starting her journey towards healing
  • [43:10] The moment of clarity that brought her peace
  • [44:30] What Mary discovered about purpose 
  • [52:40] What self love means to Mary today
  • [55:10] Hope is…

Grief Hotline

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Connect with Mary here:

Connect with Susan

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s