Ashley Judd’s candid interview following the death of her mother, Naomi Judd, is full of heart-wrenching details about April 30.
“It was a mixed day. So I see my Mom and Pop every day when I’m home in Tennessee. So I was at the house visiting as I am every day. And Mom said to me, ‘Will you stay with me?’ and I said, ‘Of course I will,’” the 54-year-old actress recalled on Good Morning America on Thursday, May 12, telling Diane Sawyer that she went outside to get a “comforting person” who had arrived. “I went upstairs to let her know that the friend was there and I discovered her. I have both grief and trauma from discovering her.”
Earlier in the interview, Ashley shared that Naomi, who was 76, died by suicide.
“She used a weapon … my mother used a firearm,” she said. “So that’s the piece of information that we are very uncomfortable sharing, but understand that we’re in a position that if we don’t say it someone else is going to.”
Naomi had been open about her struggle with mental health over the years, with Ashley telling Sawyer that her brain “physically hurt” in her final days.
“I really accepted the love my mother was capable of giving me because I knew she was fragile. So when I walked around the back of their house and came in the kitchen door she said, ‘There’s my darling, there’s my baby.’ and she lit up, I savored those moments,” she said, adding that she was “very present” for every hug. “I knew there would come a time when she would be gone — whether it was sooner or whether it was later. Whether it was by the disease or another cause.”
Naomi and daughter Wynonna Judd, also known as the country duo The Judds, were inducted into the Country Hall of Fame on May 1.
“When we’re talking about mental illness, it’s very important to be clear and make the distinction between our loved one and the disease. It’s very real. It lies, it’s savage,” Ashley said on Thursday. “My mother, our mother, couldn’t hang on until she was inducted into the Country Hall of Fame by her peers. I mean, that is the level of catastrophe of what was going on inside of her. … The lie that the disease told her was so convincing. … [The lie] that you’re not enough, the lie that you’re not loved, that you’re not worthy. Her brain hurt. It physically hurt.”
Ashley’s GMA appearance had an important message too: “I want to be very careful when we talk about this and say for anyone who’s having those ideas or those impulses to talk to someone, to share, to be open, to the vulnerable. There’s a National Suicide Hotline.”
If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).