The sudden death of Naomi Judd jarred me in a way I didn’t expect. The Judds were a beacon of hope in a time of my life where I desperately needed one.
I learned of her death on Facebook when a friend of mine posted her name and a broken heart emoji. I immediately took to the internet to find out what happened. Just last week I was looking at tickets to their final tour. Just last month they were on the CMT awards.
And there it was, lost to mental illness, according to her daughters. It’s widely-known that Naomi suffered from deep depression for a long time, but the announcement still came as a total shock.
When I finally had time to process the news, I was met with a level of grief that I’ve never experienced before in regard to a celebrity. I cried for the pain she had to endure. I cried for her family. I cried out years of my own unresolved grief. I cried for the 13-year-old I was who heard “River of Time” and in that moment was given hope that maybe, someday, things would be better. At that time of my life, I was going through something that for an adult would destroy them, let alone a 13-year-old child. I felt immense grief and sorrow for her death.
And then I felt anger. Anger toward the mental illness that took her life. Anger that there wasn’t anything anybody could have done.
Their songs mean a lot to so many of us. “Grandpa” got me through the loss of my own grandfather. “Mama He’s Crazy” gave me permission to love who I love. “Love Can Build a Bridge” softened my heart when it was starting to harden. I wept when I watched their final concert on television.
I never got the opportunity to see them in concert, but they have forever touched my life.
RIP, Naomi. I’m so sorry you suffered so much. Thank you for the hope.