Ashley Judd describes sorting through her mom’s ‘precious things’ on 1st anniversary of her death

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Ashley Judd is reflecting on fond memories with mom, Naomi Judd, and the country music icon’s lasting legacy a year after her death.

On April 30, exactly one year after Naomi Judd died by suicide at 76 years old, daughter Ashley Judd penned an emotional essay for Time where she opened up about her grief.

At the start of the essay, the actor and activist mentioned celebrating her 55th birthday on April 19. She said she imagined which birthday card her mother would have picked out for her.

“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.”

The 55-year-old revealed she spent the week after her birthday going through her mother’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 said.

Ashley Judd also looked through her mother’s calendar, which included important events like the first time she met her youngest daughter’s boyfriend and the date she was cured of hepatitis C.

“These intimate exchanges with the private fortify me,” she continued. “They remind me of the interior landscape of my mother’s soul, the innocent God-scape that somehow remained untouched by the mental illness that marred her life.”

She said the mementos make her hear her mother’s voice again.

Ashley Judd then listed the many obstacles her mother had to overcome throughout her life, including experiences with sexual abuse.

As April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and the anniversary of her mother’s death, Ashley Judd said was honored to accept the the Lifetime Igniting Impact Award from the World Without Exploitation on the late musician’s behalf. The organization works to end human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Ashley Judd noted that she's also committed to the cause.

“That is part of my commitment to her legacy and one way in which to honor the depth of our relationship, both as her child and a fellow survivor,” she said.

She shared that she and older sister Wynonna Judd will soon accept the Lifesaver Award from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, as well.

Speaking about the recognition, Ashley Judd said, “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.”

The final news Ashley Judd announced was that Mercy Community Healthcare in Franklin, Tennessee will be naming its new mental health facility after her mother.

“During this past year I have learned how I can make the irreplaceable loss of my mom serve her legacy,” Ashley Judd said. “There is lament, and there is also meaning. Everything is put to use in God’s economy as the painful past can be transmuted into service for others.”

She ended her essay by adding that she hopes her words show that no one has to battle grief alone.

The “She Said” actor has been transparent with her emotions and struggles since her mother died. In August 2022, she wrote an op-ed about privacy laws for families after the death of a loved one.

Earlier this month, Ashley Judd marked her first birthday without the country music star by posting a handwritten birth announcement from her mom on Instagram. The note was sent to friends and families after Ashley Judd was born.

Ashley Judd also uploaded a photo of her holding a birthday cake.

“Thank you, Mom, for all my birthdays so far, and for celebrating me: for holding me at bedtime and whispering in my ear, ‘Ashley, you are an extraordinary woman,’ and letting me be your Sweetpea,” she said in the caption, adding, “For you, Mom. For you.”

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