Alan Jackson's oldest daughter Mattie Jackson Selecman is still grappling with her grief following the September 2018 death of her husband, Ben Selecman. Three years after Ben passed away after suffering head trauma following a boating accident, Selecman is reflecting on his death in her new book Lemons on Friday, out Nov. 16 via Harper Collins, something that she says is "a story about how you go about honestly grieving something that is heartbreaking."
The Jackson family was hit with tragedy less than a year after Selecman and Ben married in October 2017 as the couple was "still in the honeymoon phase of our life" when what was meant to be a fun family gathering to celebrate Labor Day took a tragic turn when Ben "just slipped" on a wet dock. Reflecting on the moment in an interview with PEOPLE, Selecman recalled that her husband "hit his head. It was a pretty long fall, but you know, it was one of those things where it's almost like watching somebody play high school football, where they shake it off." Although Ben was conscious after the fall, it soon became clear that his injury was more serious than initially thought, and he was eventually rushed to the emergency room.
"The neurosurgeons started to say, 'Hey, there's a chance we're going to have to do surgery because his brain is swelling and that's really where the danger lies,'" Selecman recalled. "But at that point, he was awake. He was disoriented and in pain, but he was awake."
Ben ultimately underwent several surgeries and was placed in an 11-day medically induced coma. Throughout this time, Selcman never lost hope. Speaking to PEOPLE, she said, "I prepared myself for several years of physical therapy and the idea that we would have to go to a brain trauma clinic. But at the time, we were thinking that waking him up was like the light at the end of the tunnel." However, when doctors and family members made the decision to start waking Ben up, a blood clot caused him to suffer multiple strokes and severe brain damage, with Selecman writing, "you can't ever imagine that high of a high and that low of a low within a three-minute window. And from there, it was less than 24 hours before his heart started to fail."
Following her husband's passing, Selecman said she struggled with her grief and "there were so many times when I had no idea how to process anything." Although she admitted that she found it difficult at times to speak with family and friends, she found comfort in writing: "I thought if God could use all of my questions and all of my tears and all of the stuff that I was grappling with now that my life was falling apart to make someone else feel like they were not alone, then it was time for me to start writing." According to Selecman, "This is a story about how you go about honestly grieving something that is heartbreaking, that you know God could have stopped... My greatest hope is that people just see my story for what it is. This book is just a vehicle to show that you can hurt honestly with God, but there is a way to not let that hurt overcome you because of the hope of who He is."