Warning: This article discusses mental illness and suicide
The Judds‘ Naomi Judd passed away on April 30 at the age of 76. Her daughters, Wynonna and Ashley, shared the news of her death:
“Today we sisters experienced a tragedy,” the sisters said in a statement on social media. “We lost our beautiful mother to the disease of mental illness. We are shattered. We are navigating profound grief and know that as we loved her, she was loved by her public. We are in unknown territory.”
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Wynonna and Ashley presented a united front when The Judds were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame the day after Naomi’s death. The sisters joined their stepfather Larry Strickland (who they call “pop”) during the emotional ceremony.
A few days later, Ashley shared in an interview with GMA that her mother died as the result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. She said she, Wynonna, and Larry, chose to disclose this information themselves so they could take control of how it was released.
Ashley, Wynonna, and Larry later appeared together at Naomi’s public memorial service, which was broadcast on CMT.
Larry Strickland Recalls Days Before Wife Naomi Judd's Death: 'I Knew How Fragile She Was' https://t.co/p4fSy8OxNq
— People (@people) May 16, 2022
Wynonna has appeared onstage a few times in the three months since Naomi died. She has vowed she will continue to sing in her mother’s honor, and will embark on the “Final” tour The Judds had planned for this year.
Ashley has kept to herself a bit more, though she recently opened up about her journey with grief during an interview on the Healing with David Kessler podcast.
She said she, Wynonna, and Larry are all coping with the loss of Naomi in different ways. Although they handle their feelings differently, they are still united in their grief:
“One of the things that I think we have done well as a family, meaning my pop, my sister Wynonna and me, is we have really given each other the dignity and the allowance to grieve in our individual and respective ways,” Ashley said. “And yet we’ve been able to completely stick together. So we can be at the same supper table and recognize, ‘Oh, this one’s in anger, this one’s in denial, this one’s in bargaining, this one’s in acceptance, I’m in shock right now.‘”
Ashley, Wynonna, and Larry all live close to each other. Because of this, they see each other quite often. In fact, Larry comes over to visit Ashley every morning:
“I take care of myself first. I wake up and I do my readings and my writing and my meditation practice and connect with my partner,” Ashley said. “And then pop comes over and I make his coffee and his breakfast and we sit and we grieve together.“
Ashley said that grief looks different every day. Sometimes they cry, while other times they just sit and talk.
At the time of her interview, Ashley said Wynonna just spent the night at her house:
“Sister came over yesterday and spent the day with me and spent the night and we talked about mom, we talked about social issues,” Ashley shared. “She gave me a foot rub and she’s in a pretty different place than I am right now. And we don’t have to be congruent in order to have compassion for each other and I think that that’s a really important grace that family members can hopefully learn to give each other.”
Although they’re all in different stages of grief, Ashley, Larry, and Wynonna all find comfort in each other’s presence right now. It’s obvious they miss Naomi dearly. They’re in our continued prayers.
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, text “TALK ” to 741-741, or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org.