It’s still difficult to wrap our heads around the loss of Naomi Judd.
At the age of 76, and after longtime battle with her own mental health, one of country music’s finest took her own life just one day before her election into the Country Music Hall of Fame, alongside her daughter Wynonna.
Naomi had been very public about her mental health struggles and during a conversation with Good Morning America in 2016, she revealed she sufferance from severe depression and anxiety, which peaked in 2011 when she stopped touring with Wynonna. She also confessed that she considered taking her own life.
“Fans see me in rhinestones, you know, with glitter in my hair, that really is who I am. But then I would come home and not leave the house for three weeks, and not get out of my pajamas, and not practice normal hygiene. It was really bad.
When I came off the tour I went into this deep, dark absolutely terrifying hole and I couldn’t get out. I spent two years on my couch.”
In 2016, she also released a memoir detailing her battle with depression called, River of Time: My Descent into Depression and How I Emerged with Hope. Wynonna and Ashley have also both been honest about their battles with depression as well.
However today, her daughter Ashley Judd penned a powerful letter for USA Today, sharing her thoughts on her first Mother’s Day without her mom, where some of Naomi’s mental issued stemmed from, the trauma’s Naomi faced as a teenager, and motherhood in general, but more so, the value society places on motherhood:
S0 while Ashley is filled with sadness for the loss of her mom, she says she’s also filled with anger:
“Perhaps it’s indecorous to say, but my heart is filled with something else, too. Incandescent rage. Because my mother was stolen from me by the disease of mental illness, by the wounds she carried from a lifetime of injustices that started when she was a girl. Because she was a girl.
My mama was an extraordinary parent under duress: She showed my sister and me the power of having a voice and using it, and there has been no greater lesson. But motherhood happened to her without her consent.
She experienced an unintended pregnancy at age 17, and that led her down a road familiar to so many adolescent mothers, including poverty and gender-based violence.
Forgive me if my grief isn’t tidy. When I think about my mother, I am awash in the painful specifics. It’s a little easier, this Mother’s Day, to think about mothers in the collective, to wonder whether we value them.”
She went on to discuss the maternal death rate in the United States, which is alarmingly high for such a developed country, the rates of suicide, homicide and overdose among pregnant women, motherhood in disadvantaged places, sex trafficking around the world, and more.
Ashley asks the question, do we as a society truly value mothers?
She concluded that her mother worked her ass off overcome the odds, but that it shouldn”t
“My mama was a legend. She was an artist and a storyteller, but she had to fight like hell to overcome the hand she was dealt, to earn her place in history. She shouldn’t have had to fight that hard to share her gifts with the world.
This Mother’s Day, I choose to honor my mama for the person she was, a mother and so much more. And I ask you to honor your own mother, if you are lucky enough to have her.
Honor her for more than her labor and sacrifice. Honor her for her talents and dreams. Honor her by demanding a world where motherhood, everywhere, is safe, healthy… and chosen.”