Ashley Judd Recalls Holding Mom Naomi's "Laboring Body" as She Died in Gut-Wrenching Essay

In an essay for The New York Times, Ashley Judd got candid about the day she found her mother, Naomi Judd, in her dying moments after taking her own life.

By Tamantha Gunn Aug 31, 2022 2:41 PMTags
Watch: Ashley Judd Reveals Her Mother Naomi Judd's Cause of Death

Ashley Judd is reflecting on the devastating day her mother, Naomi Judd, died.

The High Crimes actress, 54, opened up about "the most shattering day of my life" in a harrowing essay for The New York Times, during which she shared that she found her mother in her dying moments after taking her own life.

"My beloved mother, Naomi Judd, who had come to believe that her mental illness would only get worse, never better, took her own life that day," Ashley wrote. "The trauma of discovering and then holding her laboring body haunts my nights."

But instead of being able to be with her mom as she took her last breaths, Ashley said she was bombarded with interviews that "felt mandatory and imposed on me" from the local police. 

"I felt cornered and powerless as law enforcement officers began questioning me while the last of my mother's life was fading," she wrote. "I wanted to be comforting her, telling her how she was about to see her daddy and younger brother as she ‘went away home,' as we say in Appalachia." 

Celebrity Deaths: 2022's Fallen Stars

Ashley also wrote about the months following Naomi's death, where she, her sister Wynonna Judd, and the rest of their family had to file a "petition with the courts" to prevent the public from having access to police records surrounding the country star's passing.

"This profoundly intimate personal and medical information does not belong in the press, on the internet or anywhere except in our memories," the Double Jeopardy actress wrote. "We have asked the court to not release these documents not because we have secrets. We ask because privacy in death is a death with more dignity. And for those left behind, privacy avoids heaping further harm upon a family that is already permanently and painfully altered."

Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Naomi died by suicide at the age of 76 on April 30, a day before she and Wynonna were set to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. 

Following the "Love Can Build a Bridge" singer's death, her husband Larry Strickland and her daughters were granted a temporary order in Williamson County, Tenn. that prevents Williamson County Sheriff Dusty Rhoades from "disclosing certain records and other materials regarding the death of Naomi Judd pursuant to one or more Public Records Act requests," according to the legal documents. 

Naomi Judd's Family Granted Temporary Order to Prevent Release of Death Scene Photos

The family also requested an "emergency en parte restraining order" that would cease the sheriff from sharing any investigative materials because "not all persons needed for a just adjudication are currently before the court." 

The court will hear the family's motion on Sept. 12. 

If you or someone you know needs help, call 988 to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. You can also call the network, previously known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or visit for additional resources.