It’s been a little over five months since the devastating loss of country music legend Naomi Judd — and her daughter and music partner Wynonna Judd still doesn’t understand her death.
The singer died by suicide just one day before she and her daughter were going to be inducted into Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame. The 76-year-old had very publicly battled mental illness and spoken openly about fighting valiantly for her mental health in the years prior to her tragic death.
Back in late September, Wynonna confessed to CBS Sunday Morning she was enraged because she was not able to help. And while The Judds star knew her mom struggled with her mental health, she explained she looked back at the situation wondering if there were signs she missed:
“I did not know that she was at the place she was at when she ended it. Because she had had episodes before and she got better. And that’s what I live in is like, was there anything I should have looked for? Or should I have known I didn’t?”
Now, in a new interview with People on Wednesday, the 58-year-old is expressing her confusion surrounding her grief — and how she believes she may never have answers as to why this happened:
“I can’t quite wrap my head around it and I don’t know that I ever will. That she left the way she did. That’s how baffling and cunning mental illness is. You have to make peace with the fact that you don’t know. Sometimes there are no answers.”
She says her mother was an extremely “determined” woman, no matter what the situation — including the moments leading up to her death:
“Being fired. Being forgotten. A single white female raising two babies by herself. On welfare and food stamps. She never gave up. So think about that and apply it to every stinking part of life, including death. With the same determination she had to live, she was determined to die.”
So of course she got what she wanted. That makes sense. What doesn’t make sense to Wynonna is why she wanted what she did:
“It’s so hard to comprehend how someone can be so strong and yet so vulnerable.”
Wynonna is still pushing forward, however, and plans to do The Judds: The Final Tour she and Naomi planned, by herself. She wants to continue with the reunion tour to honor her late mother by doing what she loved most — sharing her music with the world.
The vocalist says she experiences a lot of regret surrounding her music partner’s suicide, a lot of which comes from the fact she was touring with her husband Cactus Moser when the 76-year-old’s mental health took a turn for the worse:
“It was incredibly painful for because her favorite place to be was on the road and to be with me and Ashley. She was by herself a lot. And so we were disconnected. One of my regrets is that I was so busy. She often talked about how lonesome it is in that house without us.”
The Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout The Good Old Days) singer says she still finds things to be grateful for amongst the tragedy, though, recalling the last time she saw her mom:
“The last thing I said to her was ‘I love you,’ and I’m so grateful for that. I’ve accepted as much as I possibly, humanly can. Acceptance and then surrender, and what comes after is finding meaning.”
The country music star hopes sharing her story will help others in similar situations reach out if they need help. She continues to find strength in her family, faith, and music — and she’s learned to be more compassionate and thankful for the little things:
“I have a saying that was on a t-shirt my mom wore in the ’70s that said, ‘Keep on Truckin.’ You wake up in hell? Keep on truckin’ — and now I’m walkin’ it. When you deal with suicide, there is so much mystery there. What was she thinking in her final moments, what drove her to say I’m done? She’s a tough son of a bitch. Yet she was done and she was in too much pain. I don’t know what to do with that except to have compassion. I will take every available opportunity to celebrate life because everything is a gift in this life. Your breath, your heartbeat, the next day. Maybe her greatest legacy was in darkness, there is light.”
Absolutely tear-jerking! We’re so glad Wynonna has been able to find some light amongst the darkness. Our hearts are continually the Judd family.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741, or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
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