In a guest essay for The New York Times on Wednesday, the Double Jeopardy star, 54, opened up about how the aftermath of her mother's suicide has made her take legal action to protect grieving families from unwarranted intrusion into their private lives.
"The trauma of discovering and then holding her laboring body haunts my nights," Ashley wrote in The New York Times about her mother's April 30 death, adding that it was "the most shattering day of my life."
"Naomi lost a long battle against an unrelenting foe that in the end was too powerful to be defeated. I could not help her," she continued. "I can, however, do something about how she is remembered. And now that I know from bitter experience the pain inflicted on families that have had a loved one die by suicide, I intend to make the subsequent invasion of privacy — the deceased person's privacy and the family's privacy — a personal as well as a legal cause."
Ashley continued by recalling the moments after her mother's death when the actress was taken to four separate interviews with law enforcement.
Theo Wargo/WireImage Ashley and Naomi Judd
"In the immediate aftermath of a life-altering tragedy, when we are in a state of acute shock, trauma, panic and distress, the authorities show up to talk to us," she wrote, adding that she was too shaken to think through her answers or even begin to consider her own questions about privacy.
"I felt cornered and powerless as law enforcement officers began questioning me while the last of my mother's life was fading," she added. "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."
Ashley added that she was also trying to "decode" what had happened to herself as well, and so "shared everything" with law enforcement in a way to piece it all together.
Ke.Mazur/WireImage Ashley Judd, Naomi Judd and Wynonna Judd
The actress acknowledged that it wasn't the police officer's fault that this happened, saying the "police were simply following terrible, outdated interview procedures." Yet she added that the experience left her feeling interrogated, stripped of sensitivity and even considered a possible suspect in her mother's suicide.
The Bug star then explained her family's decision to file a petition to seal the death investigation on Aug. 12 in a Tennessee court.
The petition, which was obtained by the Associated Press, says the release of the records — which includes interviews with family members following Judd's death — would cause "significant trauma and irreparable harm."
"This profoundly intimate personal and medical information does not belong in the press, on the internet or anywhere except in our memories," Ashely explained in The New York Times.
"We ask because privacy in death is a death with more dignity," she added.
"Though there will be inevitable questions about our decision to assert what we believe is our legal right to protect our privacy in this specific matter, we stand united as a family and hold fast to our belief that what we said and did in the immediate aftermath of Naomi's death should remain in the private domain — just as it should for all families facing such devastation."
RELATED VIDEO:Ashley Judd Confirms Naomi Judd Died by Suicide: 'The Lie the Disease Told Her Was So Convincing'
"We feel deep compassion for Vanessa Bryant and all families that have had to endure the anguish of a leaked or legal public release of the most intimate, raw details surrounding a death," she wrote. "The raw details are used only to feed a craven gossip economy, and as we cannot count on basic human decency, we need laws that will compel that restraint."
Ashley concluded by saying how she would like her mother to be remembered: "goofy humor, glory onstage and unfailing kindness off it."
She added, "I hope that leaders in Washington and in state capitals will provide some basic protections for those involved in the police response to mental health emergencies. Those emergencies are tragedies, not grist for public spectacle."
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741741 or go to 988lifeline.org.