Ashley Judd Speaks Out About Family’s Grief Process Following Mom Naomi Judd’s Death

by Taylor Cunningham

It has been three months since Country music legend Naomi Judd passed away. And her family is still working through the mourning process.

In an emotional interview with CMT, Naomi’s youngest daughter Ashley revealed that she, her sister, Wynonna, and her stepfather, Larry Strickland, and still processing the singer’s death. And they’re all in very different stages of grief.

“One of the things that I think we have done well as a family, meaning my pop, my sister Wynonna and me, is we have really given each other the dignity and the allowance to grieve in our individual and respective ways,” she shared. “And yet we’ve been able to completely stick together. So, we can be at the same supper table and recognize, ’Oh, this one’s in anger, this one’s in denial, this one’s in bargaining, this one’s in acceptance. I’m in shock right now.’”

Despite their differences, the three have been able to rely on each other for support. As the Kiss the Girls actress said, she, Wynonna, and Strickland are all neighbors. And every morning begins with a ritual that brings them together.

First, Ashley devotes time to self-care before connecting with her partner, Martin Surbeeck. Then, Strickland walks to her house for coffee and breakfast and they sit and “grieve together.” However, that grief looks different every day. Sometimes one or both of them will cry, and other times, they’ll just talk.

“I gave him a journal one morning,” she continued. “And now he’s got his practice of writing. And I mean, it’s just those times are so holy, and we may be in slightly different places, and yet we’re in community.”

Naomi Judd Died By Suicide on April 30th

Ashley also sits for long talks with Wynonna. And they try to find peace with shared memories of their mother while respecting each other’s separate journies.

“Sister came over yesterday and spent the day with me and spent the night, and we talked about mom. We talked about social issues. She gave me a foot rub and she’s in a pretty different place than I am right now. And we don’t have to be congruent in order to have compassion for each other, and I think that that’s a really important grace that family members can hopefully learn to give each other.”

“All my feelings are valid and appropriate by virtue of being mine, and everyone else’s feelings are valid and appropriate by virtue of being theirs,” she added. “I don’t need to add anything or take anything away from another person’s experience.”

Naomi Judd died by suicide on April 30th, 2021. The singer had been open about her struggles with depression and devoted her spare time to mental health awareness.

“Today we sisters experienced a tragedy,” Ashley and Wynonna wrote in a statement. “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.”