Ashley Judd pays tribute to her mother, one year after Naomi Judd’s suicide


J“Jesus wept” is the shortest statement in the Bible. Mourning is the only emotion mentioned in the Bible. What is being said here? Perhaps we will grieve.

And sadness, I have.

My mother died by suicide a year ago. Earlier this month, I spent my first birthday without him, a tradition that everyone experiences when a parent dies. At the store where my mom and I always picked out our cards, I read the birthday cards for “The Girl” and imagined which one my mom would give me: she always picked the prettiest and most expressive, underlined the parts she thought were most meaningful, and of course, handwrote her message to “Sweet Pea.” As I read the card she chose, I felt her love. Beautiful au. Every year on my special day, I remember how my mom gave birth to me, how she felt when she first held me, smelled me, and shared with me the sweetest smile of what a light baby I was.

Read more: TIME Person of the Year 2017: Breakers of the Silence

This week I started sitting in the sanctuary with her precious things, looking at the strands of red hair in her brush, touching her beautiful dress that she left half-zipped, and laughing at the folded tissues she kept in each pocket. . I’m studying the careful, lovely handwriting in which she records the major and minor events of her life in Day Timer calendars from the early 1990s—when she was treated for hepatitis C and when she first met her new boyfriend. my, her many hair appointments and interviews.

These intimate exchanges with a private soldier strengthen me. They remind me of the inner landscape of my mother’s soul, the landscape of an innocent God who was not affected by the mental illness that destroyed her life. They call out to the pleasant sound of my mother’s bell-like voice when they see me walking barefoot on the back porch.

They also grieve for the voice they lost when my older brother, Charlie, sexually assaulted her at age 4, and for repeated workplace harassment as a single mother raising two daughters in low-wage jobs. , the intimate partner violence she experienced and the rape she bravely wrote and spoke about. These assaults and violations, which she never received treatment for, remained a source of unresolved suffering and fed her mental illness. Nevertheless, he tried his best to fight with the skills he had. During the conversation, he declared #MeToo; he wrote in his journals; In the collages he created in therapy, he expressed his trauma in Technicolor.

My mother and I were outraged when we learned about male violence, how it is normalized, and how the average age of entry into sex trafficking (erroneously called “child prostitution”) can be as low as 12 to 14 in this case. country. On his behalf, I will continue to be “brave,” as he calls me, as I fight with all my heart and soul for freedom from man’s right to a woman’s body. As April is not only the anniversary of her passing, but also Sexual Assault Awareness Month, I am accepting the Lifetime Impact Award from Crime Free World, an organization that works to create a world where no one is bought, sold, or bought in her honor. . used. I will continue to promote the Equality Model, which advocates holding sex buyers, pimps and brothels accountable for their demands on vulnerable human bodies. My mother was deeply offended by the people who support the proposed total decriminalization of sex-buying, prostitution and pimping across the country. It’s part of my commitment to his legacy and a way to honor the depth of our relationship, both as his child and as fellow survivors.

I also dedicate my special motherhood to advocating for laws that protect the privacy of families who die by suicide and more responsible reporting of the mental illness that drives people to such drastic measures. It is neither ethical nor appropriate to publish the invasive details of the suicide that appeared in print and on the Internet after his death. All suicide reporting must be medically accurate, evidence-based, careful about infectious diseases that activate and promote self-harm in readers and viewers, and follow guidelines set forth by the American Suicide Prevention Lifeline. I will continue to fight just as my mother fought her unjust enemy, so I will be speaking at the National Press Club in May, and my sister and I will accept the American Suicide Foundation’s Rescue Award for our commitment to destigmatizing mental illness, prevention, and more. It’s an award I never want to give, but I’ll accept it on my knees, because they’ve been falling, crawling, and getting back up for a year.

Finally, on the anniversary of my mother’s passing to God’s infinite mercy, I was in Franklin, Tenn. I am very pleased to learn that Mercy Community Healthcare in the state is naming their new mental health facility after him. Mercy focuses on the underserved and offers rolling payments where needed. It pained my mother that people were upset and unable to access her care. It would be a balm for his troubled mind and sweet soul.

Over the past year, I have learned how to make my mother’s irreparable loss serve her legacy. “Sorrow may be the most faithful form of prayer,” Franciscan priest Richard Rohr thinks. There is mourning and meaning. Everything is used in God’s economy, because suffering can be turned into service to others.

The Bible also says: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” I have been comforted by the work I have done in memory of my mother, as well as by the many people who have walked with me through grief. It is also true that while no one can do our grief for us, no one has to do it alone.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis or is having suicidal thoughts, call or text 988. In an emergency, call 911 or seek help from a local hospital or mental health provider.

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