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“Whatever you’re feeling is okay.”

Jennifer Stults
Jennifer Stults Author Interview

Carry on Castle is a very personal story for you. How hard was it to put this story out in the world for people to read?

I discovered through my blog that I have the rare ability to talk about death and grief. I can handle it, I guess you could say. So many of my fellow widows have written to say, “This is exactly how I feel!” I had one thank me for sharing my story, because she didn’t feel brave enough to share hers.

I don’t think bravery has anything to do with it, but I am able to talk about death and grief. Not everyone can, but they can read my story and realize that they aren’t alone, that their feelings are normal. That is a strength that I didn’t realize I had in me.

I want to tell the truth. It’s not lollipops and rainbows. It’s death. I wasn’t going to tell people we were fine, because we were not fine. I wasn’t going to gloss over it. That would have been an injustice to Dan, to pretend I was okay with him being gone.

It was also important because I don’t want people to forget Dan. Please don’t forget Dan. Dan wanted to leave a legacy. He wrote,

“Our lives are but mist, or the equivalent of the blink of an eye in all of time. We will not be around very long and we will not be remembered. I want to leave a legacy; I want the time allotted to me to result in more than consumed resources and over-populating offspring. I want said offspring to know me, to know their history through me. I want lives and subsequent generations to be different because I was involved. I want to help people heal and be transformed…”

I want people to know what he did. How amazing he was. How much he loved the world. I am his story keeper now.

What is one piece of advice someone gave you that changed your life?

I was talking to my best friends about possibly dating again, and was ambivalent about it. I knew I would never find anyone like Dan so I didn’t see the point in trying. I wasn’t ready for marriage. I wasn’t sure I ever wanted to be married again. They told me, “You don’t have to try to find another husband. It’s okay just to find someone that you can go to a movie and have a conversation with.”

That changed my whole mindset about dating. I wouldn’t replace my husband, but I could go to a movie with someone. I signed up for online dating with that intention. I managed to get lucky, and found an incredible man who I am deeply in love with. My mother in law goes as far as to say that Dan picked him out for me. He is like Dan and wholly different from Dan at the same time.

What do you hope is one thing readers take away from your story?

“Whatever you’re feeling is okay.”

My best friends told me that a lot. When I messaged them in the middle of the night crying, it was okay. When I told them I wanted to punch Dan in the face, it was okay. When I laid on the floor because I couldn’t do life, it was okay. When I locked myself in my dad’s bathroom on Christmas because I couldn’t stop crying, it was okay. When I started taking antidepressants, that was okay too.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve. You feel what you feel, you do what you have to do to survive. Don’t let anyone tell you you should be acting differently, especially people who have never been through it.

Author Links: Facebook | GoodReads | Blog

High school sweethearts Dan and Jenny Stults were living their happily ever after. They had a beautiful daughter and dreams of more children. Their life was ripped apart in January of 2015, when 36 year old Dan died suddenly, leaving Jenny and their 7 year old daughter to carry on alone. Despite unfathomable grief, they endured. Jenny recounts the story of this nearly impossible task in her memoir about true love, sudden death, and penetrating grief.

Carry on Castle

There are certain kinds of grief no one should ever have to endure, but nonetheless happen every day. Losing the love of your life at an early age is one of these, and one that author Jennifer Stults had to endure. Although she expected to live happily ever after, life had other plans. Chronicling the journey of loss and learning to live with the pieces, Stults details a life she never would have, or even could have, imagined for herself and her daughter. The story she tells is in turn heartbreaking and heartwarming as she illustrates the stages of grief in startling clarity. 

In Carry on Castle, Stults relays the good, the bad, and the incredibly ugly that comes with unexpected loss at an extremely unexpected time in life. Her brutally honest narrative, and vivid details of the night her husband Dan died, leaves nothing to the imagination. During the course of the book she details each of the stages of grief and her own reaction to them. It’s a hard fact to accept that while life is shattered it must still go on, but Stults unflinchingly describes doing so, even on days when she has no interest in doing so. Despite the support system in her life, her family, Dan’s family, her friends, and her daughter, among others, the loss of her husband creates a vacuum that Stults feels powerless against, with the feeling resurfacing at the most random times. 

Stults’ book is just as much a roadmap for others dealing with the same grief as it is catharsis for her own journey. She is open about the fact that writing was never an aspiration of hers, yet her style and tone flow so easily, it would be reasonable to guess she had done it all her life. Even with the melancholy subject matter, Stults manages to infuse enough humor to keep it from becoming too heavy, as well as showing the value of laughter as a coping mechanism. For those who have suffered this type of loss, the book is a solid reminder that no one is alone in their struggles. For those that haven’t, it is a rollercoaster of a ride that they can never completely understand. Her candor helps to convey such an incredible story.

Carry on Castle is such a well written and riveting story that I’m certain wasn’t easy to put on paper. Whether you have been through a similar experience or not, Stults provides some wisdom for both sides of the coin.

Pages: 254 | ASIN : B07Q2DX7HG

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