Ashley Judd is revealing fresh details about her bond with her mother Naomi Judd, who committed suicide in April at the age of 76. Ashley spoke candidly about her mother’s battle with mental illness and how it affected how she and her sister, Wynonna Judd, were reared during an interview on the Healing with David Kessler.
Judd told grieving specialist David Kessler, “I look back on my childhood and I know I grew up with a mother who had an undetected and untreated mental condition.” And there are various behavioral manifestations, interactions, flights of fancy, and decisions she made that I understand were an expression of the disease. I realize this, am aware of her pain, and can now appreciate that she was doing the best she could and would have done things differently if she could.
Ashley continued by saying that she hoped Naomi had made peace with her past before passing away.
She continued, “My most fervent hope for my mother is that she was able to let go of whatever guilt or shame she held for any failings she may have had in her parenting of my sister and me when she transitioned. Because everything was forgiven long ago, at least on my end.
Ashley admitted during the podcast interview that she “couldn’t control it” or “heal” her mother’s fight with mental illness and that she “didn’t cause” it.
Ashley talked about how she, Wynonna, and Naomi Strickland’s widow have been coping with the loss “One thing that my family—my dad, my sister Wynonna, and I—have done well, in my opinion, is to give one another the respect and space to grieve in our own unique and individual ways. Yet somehow we’ve managed to keep together totally. So that we can recognize each other at the dinner table and say things like, “Oh, this one’s in shock right now, this one’s in danger, this one’s in denial, this one’s in bargaining, this one’s in acceptance.”
To work through their emotions, Ashley and Strickland have incorporated new routines. We don’t try to guide, control, or tell the other person how they should feel at any given time, she added. “And I’ve shared some of the holiest and sacred moments with my father. You see, my mom, my dad, and I all live nearby, and my sister watches from over the hill while my dad drops by every morning. I look for myself first. I get up, conduct my reading, writing, and meditation practise, then I talk to my partner. When Pop arrives, I give him coffee and breakfast after which we sit and cry together.”
Their grieving “looks like different things on different mornings — he might cry, I might cry, or we might simply chat,” the 54-year-old actress said. We may be in slightly different places, but we are still in community, Ashley recalled the time she gave Strickland a diary. “One morning, he has his practise of writing,” she said.
Ashley said about her friendship with Wynonna “She is currently in a very different situation than mine. And I believe it’s a very essential grace that family members should hopefully learn to extend to one another—that we don’t have to be congruent in order to have compassion for one another.”
She subsequently said, “I had to let go of this controlling idea that your needs to look like mine.
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“That is incredibly egotistical, in my opinion. I don’t need to add to or take away from another person’s experience since all of my feelings are legitimate and suitable by virtue of being mine, and everyone else’s feelings are legitimate and proper by virtue of being theirs.”
On April 30, word of Naomi’s demise was confirmed. Ashley said that she had been the one to locate the deceased country music icon who had died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound during an interview with Good Morning America that aired on May 12.
When discussing mental illness, she noted at the time, “It’s crucial to be precise and make the distinction between our loved one and the sickness.” “It’s brutal, it lies, and it’s very genuine.”