Ashley Judd’s Tender Last Words to Dying Naomi Judd: ‘It’s Okay to Go’
Ashley Judd recounts her painful, tender final words to her mom Naomi Judd in a Wednesday (Jan. 10) appearance on Anderson Cooper's All There Is podcast. During the last moments of Naomi's life, Ashley remembers acknowledging her mother's pain, and giving her permission to let go of a life that had become untenable.
"When I walked in that room, and I saw that 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,'" Ashley says.
Naomi Judd died in 2022 at the age of 76 years old. Ashley announced her death in a statement in tandem with Wynonna Judd, Naomi's other daughter and The Judds band mate. In the days and weeks ahead, the sisters — with Ashley at the forefront — shared Naomi's manner of death; she died by suicide and "used a firearm," according to an interview Ashley gave to Good Morning America. Throughout her life, Naomi was open about her struggles with treatment-resistant depression and suicidal ideation.
"My mother's death was traumatic and unexpected because it was death by suicide, and I found her," Ashley says. "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."
Despite the horrific trauma of seeing her mother's physical condition in those final moments, Ashley says she is "so glad" she was there, because of the message she was able to convey to Naomi.
"I am here. It is okay to let go," she remembers telling her mother. "I love you. Go see your daddy. Go see Papaw Judd. Go be with your people."
"And she heard you?" host Anderson Cooper asks.
"Oh, she heard me," Ashley confirms. "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," she adds.
Elsewhere in the interview, Ashley reflects on the lasting impact of grief on her and her family, and speaks to the violent nature of her mother's death, stressing how important it is to remember that as only one small facet of her life. To listen to the full podcast episode, go here.
If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, call or text the 24-hour Suicide and Crisis Line at 988. Even if it feels like it, you are not alone.
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Gallery Credit: Billy Dukes