real life

Marie's husband told her he'd call at 7.30am. By 7.31am she knew he had died.

When Marie woke up one morning in June 2018, she immediately knew something was wrong.

Her husband Rob, who was away on a business trip, had told her he’d call at 7.30 that morning.

“I looked at the clock and it was 7:31 and I know it was only one minute but something in my heart… I just had this feeling it was so bizarre. I just felt like something had happened,” Marie Alessi told Mamamia.

“I didn’t want to buy into that feeling so I ignored it at first. But the longer it took and the longer I didn’t hear from him, of course, the more worried I got.”

For the next few hours, Marie continued to call and text her husband. There was no response.

It wasn’t until lunchtime that Marie found the details of the hotel that her husband was staying at.

“Rob had this habit of always putting the hotel in my phone just in case something happened,” she said.

“I called them up and said, ‘please don’t feel like I’m one of those freaked out wives stalking after her husband, but I have this really horrible feeling something has happened. Can you please send someone up to his room and check in the bed and in the shower?’”

Not long after hanging up the phone, Marie received a call. It was from the coroner’s office.

“I’m sorry to inform you but your husband deceased in a hotel room in Perth this morning,” they told Marie.

“That was the exact sentence that I got,” Marie recalled.

Rob had died of a brain aneurysm after collapsing in the shower of his hotel room.

“There was no warning, he wasn’t sick, he was in the prime of his life, only 45 years old. He was always super healthy and fit. Always happy and loving life,” she told Mamamia.

“It was like somebody had unplugged him from our lives.”

Marie Alessi
Marie, Rob and their two sons. Image: supplied.
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The next day, Marie flew with her then 8 and 10-year-old sons to Perth so she could identify the body.

After losing her husband of twelve and a half years, Marie went into coping mode. She had no choice; she still had her two sons to look after.

But she soon found the advice she was receiving from family and friends was dragging her down.

“I had a lot of people try to tell me what’s to come, what to look out for and all these different stages of grief and I found it really overwhelming and to be honest quite negative.”

Rebecca Sparrow and Robin Bailey discuss their experiences in dealing with grief. Post continues after podcast. 

Marie wanted a different approach and began researching support groups to see how other people were dealing with loss. But she found she couldn't spend more than five minutes in those groups.

"Everything was focused on the loss and the grief and the heaviness. It felt like I would always be stuck and part of me would always be missing. There was no opportunity for movement, for growth, for moving forward.”

Marie could relate to the pain but what she really needed was relief from it.

So she decided to visit a positive psychologist, where she was asked an important question; "what does grief mean to you?"

It was then that she realised she could deal with grief in her own way and it didn’t have to be as negative and debilitating as everyone had been telling her. It could even be empowering.

“Out of that whole conversation I decided to write a book about it and how I dealt with everything and how my dealing with grief was very different.”

Just four months after Rob died, Marie published her book Loving Life After Loss. On its first day, it made it onto the top 100 list in Australia and became a number one bestseller on Amazon.

“That really planted a seed for me. I realised I was doing something good that worked for most people. I felt I have to do something with this for myself, for my boys, for Rob.”

She decided to close down her coaching business of seven years to start a movement to help others deal with losses in their own lives.

“Rob would want us to take life by the horns and make the most beautiful and best thing out of life. And not get stuck in loss and sadness and bitterness and ask ‘why us?’. That’s my huge difference in my work. It’s not about grief. It’s about moving through it while also allowing happiness back in."

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Marie's movement also gave her a platform to share an important piece of advice that Rob told her years ago.

Marie Alessi
Marie and Rob on their 10 year wedding anniversary. Image: supplied.

“Back when I was still working in advertising, I remember him saying to me, I have two choices every single day. You can choose to focus on a negative or a positive. My choice is very clear, I choose love and happiness and positivity because that’s what I want for the three of us.”

It’s a mantra that Marie says she will continue to live by.

And it’s helping other people from all across the world deal with loss and grief as well.

Marie’s Facebook group Loving Life after Loss has attracted a following of nearly a 1000 people and she says she’s been overwhelmed with how many people have told her she has helped them “feel unstuck”.

But it wasn’t until recently that she realised the impact her new way of living was having on her family.

Marie Alessi
“Rob would want us to take life by the horns and make the most beautiful and best thing out of life." Image: supplied.
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One of Marie’s sons came up to her one day and told her, “Mum I don’t know how to say this, I don’t want you to take it the wrong way… our life has sort of improved since daddy passed - and it’s not because he passed, it’s because of what you made of it.”

“I could have just burst into tears there and then,” said Marie.

“It was proof that what I’ve been doing and helping people is the best way of helping myself and my boys get through this.”

Since their dad passed just over a year ago, Marie's boys have become “such a strong little triangle” and are closer than ever before.

Her family has learnt to live more spontaneously and not get caught up in life’s busy schedule.

“So often we wait for things and plan things and then at the end of the day you found out nothing has actually been planned because life happens. This life is short and you never know when it ends…what are we all waiting for?”

Feature Image: Supplied. 

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