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Ashley Judd shares the gestures that were most helpful when grieving her mom’s death

"A lot of times, grieving people don’t know what they need,” said Judd, who shared the simple ways her "chosen family" has cared for her since her mother's death.
/ Source: TODAY

This story discusses suicide. If you or someone you know is in crisis, call or text 988 to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. You can also text HOME to 741741 or visit for additional resources.

Ashley Judd is opening up about how her "chosen family" has been caring for her since her mom Naomi Judd's death by suicide last year at age 76.

Speaking to the New York Times, the "Kiss The Girls" star, 55, said she has suffered with traumatic flashbacks of walking into her mother's bedroom on April 30, 2022, to find that she had harmed herself after a long struggle with mental illness. The country music superstar died later the same day.What has helped process the intrusive thoughts, Ashley Judd told the publication, was the comfort and care of her a group of loved ones consisting of her partner, various mental health professionals and close friends.

Ashley Judd and Naomi Judd
Ashley Judd said she has relied on the everyday care of her "chosen family" to help her heal from the death by suicide of her mom, country music superstar Naomi Judd. Barry King / FilmMagic via Getty Images

Over the past year, these special people in Ashley Judd's life have looked out for her in simple ways: Some simply hold her when she is sad. Others have made sure she had food to eat in her refrigerator.

“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.”

Ashley Judd and her step-dad, Larry Strickland, whom she calls Pop, have also leaned on one another in their grief, she said. The close pair cook together and discuss books they're reading about processing grief. When they drive together in the car, the two connect by singing "old mountain songs."

The "Barry" star also praised her sister, musician Wynonna Judd, who was her mother's bandmate in The Judds, for using music “as her vehicle for both her grieving and healing.”

Ashley Judd told the publication that she has long been a journal keeper. The practice of writing down her thoughts in fountain pen each day has been another form of therapy since her mother's death.

“I might tell her about my day,” she said of writing missives to her mom. “I might tell her how much I love her and miss her. It’s a way we stay very close.”

In April, Ashley Judd wrote an emotional essay for Time in honor of the one-year anniversary of her mother's death.

In the essay, the actor visualized the birthday card the late Country Music Hall of Fame member would have given her on her 55th birthday on April 19.

“I felt her love as I read the card I imagined she would have picked. A beautiful ouch,” 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.”

In the week after her birthday, Ashley Judd said she found herself sorting through her mom's belongings.

“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. 

Ashley Judd also mentioned that she and Wynonna Judd would jointly accept the Lifesaver Award from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention later this year, an honor she has come to embrace.

“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 wrote.