The loss of Naomi Judd is still something that sits heavy on the hearts of her children and the country music collective.
In April 2022, the matriarch of the Judd family took her life amid a longstanding battle with her mental health. Both of the Judd sisters, Ashley and Wynonna, have spoken about how hard the loss of their mother, friend, and musical counterpart was. And while they have shared a lot about their emotions surrounding the loss, there are still some parts of the story that the two hold close to their chests.
Over a year after her mother’s death, Ashley Judd sat down with Anderson Cooper and revealed the last words she shared with Naomi. The interview on his podcast, All There Is, is raw, personal, and heartbreaking. This is the first time Ashley has really spoken about their loss since her interview with Good Morning America, which took place 12 days after the tragedy, revealing that her mother “used a firearm.”
As a mental health advocate, Ashley bore it all as she and Cooper talked about the final moments she shared with her mom and the trauma and grief that she has experienced since then.
“My mother’s death was traumatic and unexpected because it was death by suicide, and I found her. My grief was in lockstep with trauma because of the manner of her death and the fact that I found her. I held my mother as she was dying, and there was blood, and I just needed to process the fact that I was with my mother’s blood.”
Judd says that despite the trauma of finding her mother, she says that she was “so glad” she was here.
“Because even when I walked into that room and I saw she had harmed herself, the first thing out of my mouth was, ‘Mama, I see how much you’ve been suffering. It is okay. It is okay to go.’
I love you, go see your daddy, go see Papaw Judd, go be with your people.”
Cooper processes each word that Ashley speaks before asking if Naomi heard her say those loving yet heartbreaking words.
“Oh, she heard me. And I just got in the bed with her, held her and talked to her, and said, ‘Let it all go. Be free. All was forgiven long ago. Leave it all here. Take nothing with you. Just be free.’
I’m so thankful I was there.”
Hearing Ashley speak so calmly and sounding so at peace with the final moments she shared with her mother cloaks listeners in sorrow. You can feel the grief in her voice, yet the love she had for her mom and the fact she knew she was suffering.
Anderson then opens up about how he feels connected to Ashley as he lost his brother to suicide 35 years ago. Ashley listens intently to Cooper’s own experience and gingerly talks to him about the shared traumas they have.
Ashley Judd then reminds Anderson Cooper that death is just a small facet of loved ones’ lives and that it should not consume the other aspects of their life that should be celebrated. And while it’s easy to carry and grief the way they passed, there is so much more that should be remembered.
Pull our your Kleenex for this one, it’s heavy.
If you want to listen to the full episode with Ashley Judd, you can find it here.
Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or text Crisis Text Line at 741741 if you or someone you know is considering suicide.