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Ashley Judd reflects on what helped her cope with the loss of her mom, Naomi Judd: 'I felt her love'

Ashley Judd said she endured traumatic flashbacks of when she found out her mom had self-harmed after a long battle with mental illness.

Ashley Judd reflects on what helped her cope with the loss of her mom, Naomi Judd: 'I felt her love'
Cover Image Source: (L) Ashley Judd attends "Time's Up" on April 28, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival), (R) Naomi Judd attends "TCA Press Tour" on August 2, 2012. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty

Ashley Judd is sharing how she is coping with the loss of her mom, Naomi Judd, who died by suicide at the age of 76 in 2022. In an interview published by The New York Times on May 26, Judd said she endured traumatic flashbacks of the time she found her mom had self-harmed after a long battle with mental illness. Judd noted that she found comfort and care in a "chosen family," a group of loved ones consisting of her partner, various mental health professionals and a close friend. Calling April 30, 2022—the day Noami Judd passed away—"the most shattering day of my life," the "Double Jeopardy" actress recounted all the emotions she felt as she coped with grief.

Image Source: Actress Ashley Judd (left) and her mother singer Naomi Judd arrive at the premiere of
Image Source: Actress Ashley Judd (left) and her mother singer Naomi Judd arrive at the premiere of "Twisted" on February 23, 2004, in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

In April, Judd turned 55, her first birthday without her mother. However, despite the painful loss, she continued to work, engaging in advocacy and giving speeches about traumatic grief. “A lot of times, grieving people don’t know what they need,” she said. “To ask them, ‘What can I do?’ is sincere but overwhelming. It can be more helpful simply to act and schedule yourself to take out the recycling or to show up to take the dog out every day at 10 a.m.”

Judd and her step-dad, Larry Strickland, have leaned on one another in their grief and the pair often cook together and read books to process grief. When the duo drives together, they connect by singing "old mountain songs," said Judd.



 

The "Kiss the Girls" star said her sister, Wynonna Judd, who was Naomi's bandmate in The Judds, uses music “as her vehicle for both her grieving and healing.” Judd also shared that she also pens down her thoughts in a journal as a way of staying connected to her late mother. “I might tell her about my day,” she said of writing letters to her mom. “I might tell her how much I love her and miss her. It’s a way we stay very close.” 

Last month, Judd wrote an emotional essay for TIME as a homage to her mom on the occasion of her first death anniversary. “I felt her love as I read the card I imagined she would have picked. A beautiful touch,” she wrote. “And I remembered how every year on my special day, Mama would recount giving birth to me, sharing with the sweetest smile how she felt when she held me for the first time, what I smelled like, and what an easy baby I was.”



 

Judd also shared that she found herself through her mom's belongings a week after her birthday. “I have this week started to sit in sacred presence with her precious things, to look at her strands of red hair in her brush, to hold a pretty dress she left half-zipped, to chuckle at the folded tissues she kept in every single pocket,” she wrote. She mentioned that she and Wynonna would jointly accept the Lifesaver Award from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention later this year. “This is an award I would never have wanted to be given, yet one I will accept on my knees, bloody as they are from a year of falling, crawling, and getting back up again," she said.

Image Source: Ashley Judd and Wynonna Judd speak onstage during Naomi Judd: 'A River Of Time' Celebration at Ryman Auditorium on May 15, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Mickey Bernal/Getty Images)
Image Source: Ashley Judd and Wynonna Judd speak onstage during Naomi Judd: 'A River Of Time' Celebration at Ryman Auditorium on May 15, 2022, in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Mickey Bernal/Getty Images)

When asked how she is holding up, Judd replied: “Grief hurts in a deeply particular way. And isolation makes it worse.” Judd had sought help from a therapist who specialized in eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, known as E.M.D.R. Twice a week, Judd would practice recalling traumatic memories while moving her eyes in a specific way, known as bilateral stimulation, which aims to make memories less vivid. Judd eventually learned to store her memories in a safe place where she could remember them and look at the book as needed “instead of the memory being constantly free-floating in my mind.”

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