Judd died on April 30th at the age of 76
Ashley Judd has revealed that Naomi Judd died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on April 30th. The actress shared the devastating news with Diane Sawyer in a nearly ten minute interview on ABC’s Good Morning America on Thursday (May 12th).
“I’m tasked with the exceeding difficult task in disclosing the manner of the way my mother chose not to continue to live. I’ve thought it about so much because once I say it, it cannot be unsaid. Because we don’t want it to be apart of the gossip economy, I will share with you that she used a weapon. Mother used a firearm. That’s the piece of information that we are very uncomfortable sharing, but are in a position that if we don’t say it, someone else is going to,” Judd says.
The exact manner of her death was not unveiled at the time of her passing although daughters Ashley and Wynonna cited mental illness as the cause. A few days after the announcement, new details emerged that it was suicide, although the family made no official announcement until now.
“I’m here as an individual sitting here by myself, but both sister and Pop have kinda deputized me in certain ways to speak on behalf of the family at this early time before things about things of the 30th of April become public without our control, whether it’s the autopsy or exact manner of her death. So that’s really the impetus of this. Otherwise, it’s way too soon,” Judd says.
Judd describes the day as “a mixed day.”
“I visit with my mom and Pop everyday when I’m home in Tennessee, so I was at the house visiting as I am everyday. And Mom said to me, ‘Will you stay with me?’ and I said, ‘Of course I will,” she shares. Ashley says she had gone outside to greet a friend who had arrived. “I went upstairs to let her know that the friend was there, and that’s when I discovered her. I have both grief and trauma from discovering her.”
She adds, “My mother is entitled to her dignity and privacy, and so there are some things that would just like to retain as a family.”
Naomi died one day before she and Wynonna were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum at its annual Medallion Ceremony. Despite their grievances, the family asked that the ceremony still honor The Judds as members of Class of 2021 as planned.
“My mother knew that she was seen and she was heard in her anguish, and she was walked home, she was walked home,” Ashley shares. “When we’re talking about mental illness, it’s very important to be clear and to make the distinction between our loved one and the disease. It’s very real, and it is enough too — it lies, it’s savage. My mother — our mother couldn’t hang on until she was inducted into the Hall of Fame by her peers. I mean, that is the level of catastrophe of what was going on inside of her, because the barrier between the regard in which they held her couldn’t penetrate into her heart, and the lie the disease told her was so convincing.”
“Her brain hurt. It physically hurt.”
Wynonna shared a letter she wrote with Ashley regarding her absence from the interview.
“I need to take some time to process and I need this time to myself. I’m not ready yet to speak publicly about what happened so I know you understand why I’m not there today,” Wynonna’s letter reads. “I just can’t believe she’s gone. I’m here. This will take time.”
The Judds, one of the most successful duos in country music history and pioneers for women in country music, made a triumphant return to the CMT Music Awards performing their iconic hit, “Love Can Build a Bridge” last month. They had also announced their first tour in over a decade, The Final Tour, with nearly all ten dates selling out. No word on the future of the tour.
CMT is set to air a public memorial for Judd on Sunday, May 15th at 6 pm ET live from the Ryman Auditorium. Wynonna and Ashley will pay tribute to their mother with additional soon-to-be-announced performances and special appearances from some of the biggest names in entertainment. Additional details will be revealed.