Ashley Judd says she’s gained a new perspective on mental health amid the grief she continues to experience following the death of her mother, Naomi Judd, by suicide this spring.
The “Berlin Station” star dropped by the “Healing with David Kessler” podcast for an emotional chat this week in which she shared how she’s been processing her loss. A major first step, she said, was accepting that her mother had “an undiagnosed and untreated mental illness” for much of her lifetime.
“There are different behavioral expressions, interactions, flights of fancy, choices that she made that I understand were an expression of the disease,” Judd explained to the host. “I understand that, and know that she was in pain and can today understand that she was absolutely doing the best she could, and if she could have done it differently, she would have.”
Over the years, Judd said she’d come to terms with the fact she was not the cause of her mother’s illness, but also that she “couldn’t control it” and “couldn’t cure it.”
Still, she’s hopeful the elder Judd was able to find a sense of peace that had eluded her for much of her life shortly before her death.
“My most ardent wish for my mother is that when she transitioned, she was hopefully able to let go of any guilt or shame that she carried for any shortcomings she may have had in her parenting of my sister and me,” she said. “Certainly on my end, all was forgiven long ago.”
Naomi Judd died at her home in Nashville on April 30, just days before her Grammy-winning country duo, The Judds, was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. She was 76.
Ashley Judd later confirmed that her mother died by suicide.
Elsewhere in her chat with Kessler, Judd praised her sister, Wynonna Judd, and stepfather Larry Strickland for collectively allowing one another to grieve “in our individual and respective ways.”
“We don’t try to control or redirect or dictate how the other one should be feeling at any particular moment,” she said. “We may be in slightly different places, and yet we’re in community.”
In spite of her grief, Judd is continuing to look to her future with optimism.
“I want wellness and vitality and to have the greatest chance at happiness that I can,” she said. “My family just happens to come from a lot of grief, a lot of trauma. We’re pushing back against generations of hurt, and I believe it’s in me to do things differently.”
Listen to Ashley Judd’s “Healing with David Kessler” interview below.