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Wynonna and Ashley Judd thanked fans who stood by their mom, Naomi Judd, at CMT’s “Naomi Judd: A River of Time” memorial special on Sunday — and have spoken out a few times to honor the late country music star since she died in April.
Over the weekend, the Judd daughters referred to their late mother as “a salty single mama” before thanking their family therapist for making the ceremony “a little lighter.”
The memorial was held at the Rynman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee, and was hosted by Robin Roberts. Wynonna and Ashley sat beside Naomi’s husband, Larry Strickland, who spoke out about her death for the first time.
‘SHE WAS EVERY WOMAN’
As the crowd gathered, Ashley, 54, fought through tears as she said, “Tonight (we’re) remembering an icon and a legend who left country music better than she found it.”
She continued: “She was every woman — perhaps this is why everyone felt as though they knew her.”
Her older sister, Wynonna, 57, shared that the public memorial was not easy on her, but it’s “what a dysfunctional family does.”
“This isn’t easy. I don’t know why we’re doing this in public. It sucks,” Wynonna said, accompanied by Ashley and Strickland onstage. “But we’re doing it, aren’t we? We’re showing the world what a dysfunctional family does. We show up for each other.”
As the memorial came to an end on Sunday night, Wynonna — who is the second half of the music group The Judds — shared that she will finish the 11 tour dates her and her mother announced in April. In 2016, Wynonna opened up to Robin Roberts about her mother-daughter relationship, noting: “We’ve been through a lot of therapy together.”
Ashley held an interview with Good Morning America on Thursday during which she said that her sister and stepfather have “deputized” her to speak on behalf of the family.
“Mom was a brilliant conversationalist, she was a star, she was an underrated songwriter,” she said of her late mother. “An unfailingly kind, sensitive woman.”
During Ashley’s interview, she confirmed publicly that Naomi died by suicide with the use of a firearm. She said she decided to share that information because the family wanted to be the one to share the information before the media.
Ashley also shared details from Naomi’s final day.
“It was a mixed day,” the actress explained. “I visit with my mom and pop every day when I’m home in Tennessee, so I was at the house visiting as I am every day. Mom said to me, ‘Will you stay with me?’ and I said, ‘Of course I will.’… I went upstairs to let her know that her good friend was there, and I discovered her. I have both grief and trauma from discovering her.”
‘POWER OF HAVING A VOICE AND USING IT’
The Judd sisters recently celebrated their first Mother’s Day without Naomi. In a Mother’s Day essay written for USA Today, Ashley opened up about her mother’s struggle with mental illness.
“My mama was an extraordinary parent under duress,” Ashley said. “She showed my sister and me the power of having a voice and using it, and there has been no greater lesson.”
The day after Mother’s Day, Ashley took to Instagram to share an old image of the three Judd girls. In her caption, she thanked her late mother for “urging” her to use her voice to stand up for women across the world.
“Mom, thank you for hugging me and telling me I am an extraordinary woman and urging my voice,” Ashley wrote.
Ashley and Wynonna Judd announced their mother’s death via a statement shared to social media.
“Today we sisters experienced a tragedy,” the joint statement read. “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.”
Fox News’ Lauryn Overhultz contributed to this report.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).