Ashley Judd honors her mother, Naomi Judd, on her first Mother’s Day without her.
The actress and humanitarian has written an editorial for USA TODAY On losing her mother to a “mental illness” and how “making motherhood safe and healthy” for everyone would be the best way to honor the legacy of the The Judds singer.
“My mom was a legend,” Ashley wrote, about a week after Naomi died by suicide at the age of 76. “She was an artist and a storyteller, but she had to fight like hell to conquer the hand that was dealt, to earn her. A place in history. She didn’t have to fight that hard to share her gifts with the world.”
She continued, “This Mother’s Day, I chose to honor my mother over the person she was, a mother and so much more. And I ask you to honor your mother, if you are fortunate enough to have her. Respect her more. Motherhood, everywhere, is safe and healthy—and chosen.”
Ashley wrote that this Sunday “falls suddenly, and shockingly, my first Mother’s Day without my mother.” “It wasn’t meant to be this way,” she said. “I was supposed to visit her on a Sunday, to give her an old-fashioned box of candy, our family tradition. We were supposed to have the sweet bliss of each other’s presence at ease. Instead, I’m not trapped.” But my heart is not empty. It is full of gratitude for what she left behind. Her care, tenderness, music, and memory.”
However, she said her heart is also filled with “a glowing rage” over the fact that Naomi “was stolen from me by a mental illness, for the wounds she bore from the injustices of her life that began when she was a girl.”
Ashley wrote that motherhood happened to Naomi “without her consent” when she had an “unintended pregnancy at age 17,” referring to her older sister Winona, and this led the Kentucky native “down a path familiar to many teenage mothers, including poverty and gender-based violence.” social gender”.
While casting her grief, saying it was “not tidy” because she was “overwhelmed with painful details,” Ashley – the UNFPA Global Goodwill Ambassador who focuses on the sexual and reproductive health agency – said she left questioning instead if mothers were valued in the community. .
She shared statistics on maternal mortality and more than 800 women died every day from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. She notes that the United States has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the developed world, and paid parental leave is lagging far behind. Furthermore, some of the leading causes of death among pregnant women in the United States “were homicide, suicide, and overdose.” Not to mention that “too often, motherhood is caused by violence, by neglect, because schools and health systems fail to provide reproductive health information, because they fail to teach individuals the right to make their own choices about sex and contraception.”
Ashley writes that she is not a “biological mother,” and instead has dedicated her “time and resources to children living in poverty and suffering” in her role at UNFPA. To her, “Motherhood should always be an option,” she wrote before asking, “Does this sound so radical to you? Does it sound like I wish my sister hadn’t been born? If that’s what you think, I’d be glad to face my glowing anger at you.” .
After all, “How much can we, as a society, value motherhood when it is supposed to be inevitable? When we accept as usual that women and girls will drop out of school and the workforce because they are expected to take on the unpaid labor of childcare? When we fail to protect girls from Poverty and violence?
Ashley broke the news of her mother’s death last weekend that her mother had died of mental illness. Sources later confirmed to People Naomi magazine has committed suicide. While she and Wynonna were “shattered” by their loss, they attended The Judds at the Country Music Hall of Fame the next day. Winona, who was part of country music’s most famous mother-daughter band, said in her acceptance speech that she was feeling broken and blessed at the same time.
Ashley also shared videos and photos of how they mourned the music legend, including singing hymns.
She said of the family’s loss, ending with her post: “All of us are alone and we are in fellowship, broken and held, protected from nothing and sustained in everything. It is the beginning of an old story, life and death, loss and life.” She said, “Be free, my beautiful mother. Be free.”