Editor’s note: This story discusses suicide. If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Ashley Judd honored her late mother Naomi Judd as she prepared for her first Mother’s Day without the country music star.
Ashley expressed her thoughts in an op-ed published by USA Today Friday, six days after Naomi reportedly took her own life. The 54-year-old actress touched on her mother’s legacy but also talked about the struggles the singer went through.
“My mama was an extraordinary parent under duress: She showed my sister and me the power of having a voice and using it, and there has been no greater lesson,” Ashley wrote.“But motherhood happened to her without her consent. She experienced an unintended pregnancy at age 17, and that led her down a road familiar to so many adolescent mothers, including poverty and gender-based violence.”
Naomi had been outspoken about her struggles with mental illness throughout her career. She most recently wrote about her suicidal depression in the book, “River of Time: My Descent into Depression and How I Emerged with Hope,” released in 2016.
“My mama was a legend,” Ashley wrote. “She was an artist and a storyteller, but she had to fight like hell to overcome the hand she was dealt, to earn her place in history. She shouldn’t have had to fight that hard to share her gifts with the world.
“This Mother’s Day, I choose to honor my mama for the person she was, a mother and so much more,” she added. “And I ask you to honor your own mother, if you are lucky enough to have her. Honor her for more than her labor and sacrifice. Honor her for her talents and dreams. Honor her by demanding a world where motherhood, everywhere, is safe, healthy — and chosen.”
Ashley and her sister Wynonna announced their mother’s death with a statement they shared on social media.
“Today we sisters experienced a tragedy,” it said. “We lost our beautiful mother to the disease of mental illness. We are shattered. We are navigating profound grief and know that as we loved her, she was loved by her public. We are in unknown territory.”
Naomi’s death came months before she was set to take the stage with Wynonna one last time.
“The Final Tour” was supposed to begin Sept. 30 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and end Oct. 28 in Nashville, Tennessee. Martina McBride was was the scheduled opener for the tour. It’s unclear if the tour will go on as planned, but the family wants to be “respectful” of Naomi’s legacy.
“They want to be respectful and representative of their legacy, but more importantly as to what Naomi would have wanted for her family and fans,” a source told People magazine.