Alan Jackson’s Daughter, Mattie, Details How She Coped With Husband’s Death

Dallas Wilson via Southern Bride / YouTube

Alan Jackson and his wife, Denise, have three beautiful daughters: Mattie, Ali, and Dani. Mattie is the eldest of the three Jackson girls, and was the first to marry.

Mattie and Ben Selecman tied the knot on October 7, 2017. Their stunning wedding was featured in an issue of Southern Bride magazine.


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A post shared by Mattie Jackson Selecman (@mjselecman)

But just 11 months after Mattie and Ben said “I do,” tragedy struck.

In September 2018, the couple was on vacation in Florida and decided to take a boat to dinner with Mattie’s sisters, their boyfriends, and some friends. As Mattie explained on the Jesus Calling podcast, Ben went to help the ladies on the boat when he slipped and hit his head.

Ben was in the hospital for a week before he passed away on September 12, 2018. 


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A post shared by Mattie Jackson Selecman (@mjselecman)

At age 28, Mattie became a widow. Through her pain, she found the strength to reach out to other women who have found themselves in the same unfortunate circumstances.

Along with her friend Brooke Tometich, Mattie founded an organization called NaSHEville. According to its Instagram bio, the organization was created to “celebrate sisterhood & give back to orphans, widows & trafficked women.”

Mattie is also hoping she’ll be able to help others through her new book, Lemons on Friday. As she explained in a post on Instagram, the book “charts [her] pain and struggles,”  after Ben’s death.

In an interview with Yahoo! Life’s The Unwind about her new book, Mattie detailed how she coped with her grief after losing Ben.

Mattie, who has a degree in creative writing, relied on writing from the get-go to help her in the aftermath of Ben’s death. Though she initially never thought about writing a book:

It was never my intention [to write a book],” she said. “The way I knew how to process sudden tragedy and grief was to write. It’s a passion of mine anyway, but there was more permission to be more honest on paper than with myself and the people around me.”

Mattie said she relied a lot on “journaling” to help her process her grief. She said journaling and prayer were the “two safe outlets” she turned to.


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A post shared by Mattie Jackson Selecman (@mjselecman)

After reading C.S. Lewis’ A Grief Observed about him losing his wife to cancer, Mattie wondered if her journal entries could help others who also lost a loved one. That’s how her book came to be.

From there, I went back and looked back at the last year of journals and started working,” she said.

Other than writing and praying, Mattie is able to find peace through cooking and spending time outdoors. As she said:

If it’s a nice day, I need to be outdoors, play some music and just be in the presence of nature. For me, that’s a big part of my family’s life and it was a big part of my marriage. Being outdoors slows me down, and seeing the way nature is so reliable and cyclic, to me, is a huge reminder that there’s someone bigger than me in control. I see that a lot in nature. On a non-spiritual level, I love cooking. I realized through my grief that having a small sense of creative control — like cooking or doing a puzzle — gives me a sense of stability.”

It’s admirable to witness how strong Mattie has been after losing Ben. They shared such a special love, as you can see when you watch their wedding video below.

Our hearts go out to Mattie now and always. May Ben rest in peace.