Naomi Judd's Husband Sheds Light on Country Icon's Struggles Before Her Death

The country music world is still trying to make sense of beloved icon Naomi Judd's tragic death. Judd, ½ of the mother-daughter duo The Judds, died by suicide on April 30. She was 76. Judd struggled with mental health issues throughout much of her adult life. Now, her longtime husband Larry Strickland is opening up about the final months of Judd's life. And his account is a harrowing one of sadness. "It was a very chaotic, hectic, hectic time," he told PEOPLE from the Tennessee home he shared with his wife. "It was extremely hard. She had several therapists that she was seeing, and her energy level had gotten really low. She was getting really weak." 

Judd had been open about her battle with anxiety and depression in interviews throughout her career, calling it stifling at times. Strickland witnessed everything firsthand. Still, he hoped for a different outcome. He also admits he was unaware of just how dire things were for Naomi. "I just feel like I might have overdone it," he explained. "I was trying to get her to eat. I was trying to get her to exercise. I handled her medications and had to make sure she had what she needed. I was trying every way I could."

In retrospect, he wishes he would have done things differently. He hints at not being as sensitive to her at times.

"If I had known where she was, I would've been much softer on her," he said. "I would've been gentler and more understanding instead of tired and exhausted because it was wearing me out, too. To know now that she was contemplating [suicide], I look back and just wish I had been holding her and comforting her instead of pushing her. I don't know if that would've helped, but it certainly wouldn't have hurt."

Judd herself once told PEOPLE of her condition: "Nobody can understand it unless you've been there. Think of your very worst day of your whole life – someone passed away, you lost your job, you found out you were being betrayed, that your child had a rare disease – you can take all of those at once and put them together, and that's what depression feels like."

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Judd's death occurred just a day before she was set to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. It's an honor her daughters Ashley and Wynonna say they wish their mother would have been present to see how much she was loved. The Judds were also scheduled to go on their final tour before Naomi's death.