Ashley Judd Remembers Mom Naomi as She Celebrates First Birthday Without Her

Naomi Judd died in April 2022.

Ashley Judd celebrated her 55th birthday on Wednesday with a lengthy tribute to her late mother, Naomi Judd. This year was Ashley's first birthday since her mother died by suicide at age 76 in April 2022. 

"My birthday. Everyone who loves me is making it as soft (cake in bed) and precious as they can, as my mind can't help but calculate that on my last birthday, Mom was a scant 11 days from her death by crushing suicide," Ashely wrote on Instagram.

Shortly after Naomi's death, Ashley shared that she was the one who found her mother, who died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, and later had to be the person who broke the news to Naomi's husband, Larry Strickland. 

"So it is my first without her," she continued on Wednesday. She paired the caption with a photo of Naomi's handwritten baby announcement following Ashley's birth in 1968. "During my birthday at some point she would glow, patting my arm, 'you were brown when you came out, surprised me so, and the sweetest, easiest I loved you, I had to swat peoples` hands, they wanted to touch you,' and patter on about my baby stories. I hope all parents do that for their children on their birthdays."

Ashley went on to remember the many ways Naomi celebrated birthdays: "picnics, running charades, Smoky Mountains, conversations about parenting ('when we know better, we do better') social issues, & laughter scatter like sunlight in my memory."

As Ashley wrote, Naomi died less than two weeks after her younger daughter's birthday. "Last year's, as you might imagine, was more muted, being so close to her end," Ashley wrote. "Pop and she came over with a roast chicken and cornbread, and we shared a small meal, the 3 of us. Mom laid down a lot. We had cake and in spite of being weak and preoccupied with the disease that was eating at her, she had a gorgeous card for me and I knew, as ever, how much she loved me."

Ashley finished her reflection with a message of thankfulness, writing, "Thank you, Mom, for all my birthdays so far, and for celebrating me: for holding me at bedtime and whispering in my ear, 'Ashley, you are an extraordinary woman,' and letting me be your Sweetpea. What more does a birthday girl need, than memories of a mother like that? And this is how she saw and loved me, first awake, hair never brushed, ready to share our dreams. For you, Mom. For you." 

Following her mother's death, Ashely shared she fractured her leg as a result of her grief. 

"It was what it was," she said in October 2022. "Clumsiness is associated with grief, and there were other people in our family, after Mom died, who fell down stairs and had accidents, and that's just what mine happened to look like. It really allowed me to grieve. It really allowed me to stop what I was working on at that moment and to grieve."