Wynonna Judd says she ‘became an orphan’ following mom Naomi Judd’s death

It’s been six months since Naomi Judd died by suicide, and her daughter Wynonna Judd has said while continuing to perform has been healing, she considers herself “somewhere between hell and hallelujah.”

The country singer recently spoke on TODAY with Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager about how her life changed – “I became an orphan” – including her relationship with her sister Ashley Judd.

“Well, when I became an orphan, I took a real strong look around me and said, ‘OK. Forgiveness. Forgiveness is key.’ Ashley and I are closer than we’ve been in a long time. So, get off our backs there, press. We love each other. And we show up for each other.”

Following their mother’s sudden death, Ashley and Wynonna released a joint statement.

“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.”


The next day the two appeared together at the Country Music Hall of Fame ceremony where Naomi and Wynonna were set to be inducted as the duo The Judds. Instead, the sisters accepted the honor.

Wynonna said since their mother died, she’s noticed a change in herself.

“I feel a lot more tender than I did, and I was always tender-hearted, but I feel even more so now,” she said. “You’re such a strong, yet tender, person. You know what it’s like to feel the loss and the love at the same time. Oftentimes, it’s joy and sorrow at the same time.”

The change has affected her relationship with her sister too.

“We don’t agree on much, but we support one another, and we agree to disagree. And we’ve had some tough conversations lately about ‘What are we going to do?’ now that we have each other.”

After reuniting on TV earlier this year, The Judds were set to embark on a final tour.

Despite not having her one half of the duo – her mother – on stage with her, Wynonna decided to go ahead with the tour.

“This is my opportunity to step into a situation that I don’t know that I am ready to do what I’m about to do, but I think it’s going to heal me,” she said. “I’m teaching what I want to learn, which is how to have peace and joy in a really negative [space]. I want people to know that they’re loved. I want people to know that there is hope.”

As the first leg of the original 10-date tour winds down, Wynonna described the shows as a “victory lap.”

“And these shows are healing me, one show at a time. And all my friends are coming and it’s like the greatest party you throw yourself before the end.”

She’s amazed at how generations of people are coming out to her shows.

“This is a celebration of life, as well as people going through their own stuff while listening to the songs of what they went through.”

If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, there is help. Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 for help.

Losing a parent is never easy, and it doesn’t get any easier as the days go by. You only learn how to live with it.