Ashley Judd, daughter of the late country singer Naomi Judd, sat down with Dianne Sawyer Thursday morning on “Good Morning America” and spoke about her grief after losing her mom.
The interview — which discussed “a family’s heartbreak and love, mental illness, and help,” according to ABC — was the actress’s first since she and sister Wynonna announced their mother’s death on April 30. Naomi was 76.
The siblings said they lost their mom “to the disease of mental illness.” Naomi had a longtime battle with depression.
Judd began the interview by first thanking fans for their thoughts and prayers as her family navigates a difficult time.
The 54-year-old actress then revealed her mom’s cause of death: a self-inflicted firearm wound.
“Once I say it, it cannot be unsaid,” she began through tears. “She used a weapon…my mother used a firearm. So that’s the piece of information that we are very uncomfortable sharing, but understand that we’re in a position that if we don’t say it someone else is going to.”
Judd said she hopes sharing the truth about her mom’s death will help others suffering from mental illness to seek help.
“My mother knew that she was seen and she was heard in her anguish, and she was walked home,” she said. “When we’re talking about mental illness, it’s very important to be clear and to make the distinction between our loved one and the disease. It’s very real, and it lies, it’s savage.”
On the final day of Judd’s life, Ashley said she saw her mother in Tennessee, where they live in separate homes minutes apart.
“It was a mixed day,” she said. “I visit with my mom and pop every day when I’m home in Tennessee, so I was at the house visiting as I am every day. Mom said to me, ‘Will you stay with me?’ and I said, ‘Of course I will.’”
Later, she revealed, she discovered her mom.
“I went upstairs to let her know that her good friend was there and I discovered her. I have both grief and trauma from discovering her.”
“Our mother couldn’t hang on until she was inducted into the Hall of Fame by her peers,” she added. “That is the level of catastrophe of what was going on inside of her, because the barrier between the regard in which they held her could n’t penetrate into her heart, and the lie the disease told her was so convincing.”
CMT will air a live, commercial-free memorial of Naomi’s life on Sunday at 6 pm from Nashville, Tennessee.
If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts or are experiencing a mental health crisis and live in New York City, you can call 1-888-NYC-WELL for free and confidential counseling counseling. If you live outside the five boroughs, you can dial the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or go to SuicidePreventionLifeline.org.