Ashley Judd Pens Emotional Mother's Day Tribute Honoring Late Mom Naomi Judd

It's been a week since country music icon Naomi Judd passed away. In advance of Mother's Day, Naomi's daughter, Ashley Judd, paid tribute to her late mother. The actor penned an emotional essay for USA Today in which she discussed both Naomi's journey to becoming a parent and motherhood in general. 

Ashley began her essay by noting that this will be the first Mother's Day that she won't be spending with Naomi. She mentioned that it was a family tradition to gift her with a box of old-fashioned candy on the occasion. The actor continued, "Instead, I am unmoored. But my heart is not empty. It is replete with gratitude for what she left behind. Her nurture and tenderness, her music and memory." Ashley went on to reflect on Naomi's life, including the fact that she "experienced an unintended pregnancy" when she was 17 years old. As a result of this pregnancy, it led the singer "down a road familiar to so many adolescent mothers, including poverty and gender-based violence."

Since she only recently lost her mother, Ashley explained that it was easier for her to think about "mothers in the collective" on Mother's Day. Much of her essay touched upon whether society values mothers, with Ashley chronicling her work with the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency that took her abroad. She mentioned distressing figures including the rate of maternal death (particularly among Black and indigenous women) and the lack of healthcare options, and noted that "motherhood should always be a choice." She then tied it back to Naomi. 

"This Mother's Day, I choose to honor my mama for the person she was, a mother and so much more," Ashley wrote. "And I ask you to honor your own mother, if you are lucky enough to have her. Honor her for more than her labor and sacrifice. Honor her for her talents and dreams. Honor her by demanding a world where motherhood, everywhere, is safe, healthy – and chosen."

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Naomi died at the age of 76 on April 30. Her daughters, Ashley and Wynonna Judd, subsequently released a statement in which they shared that they lost their mother to "the disease of mental illness." Their full statement read, "Today we sisters experienced a tragedy. We lost our beautiful mother to the disease of mental illness. We are shattered. We are navigating profound grief and know that as we loved her, she was loved by her public. We are in unknown territory."