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Jason Kempin

Naomi Judd’s daughter Ashley calls for changes to laws around bereaved families after her mother’s death

Ashley Judd recently opened up about the tragic events that took place when she discovered her mother, famous country singer Naomi Judd, after her suicide in April. In an essay written herself published in The New York Times, the 54-year-old wrote about that day as “the most shattering day of her life” when she was able to recall her mother in her body and holding her. “The trauma of discovering and then holding her laboring body haunts my nights,” Judd wrote. Judd felt “cornered and powerless” because all she wanted to do was help her mother, but police officers began interrogating her and prevented her from speaking to Naomi in the last few moments of her life.

“I wanted to be comforting her, telling her how she was about to see her daddy and younger brother as she ‘went away home,’ as we say in Appalachia,” Judd told me. “Instead, without it being indicated I had any choices about when, where, and how to participate, I began a series of interviews that felt mandatory and imposed on me that drew me away from the precious end of my mother’s life.”

Judd believed that the police were able to label her she was a “possible suspect” only moments after finding her mother’s corpse. “The men who were present left us feeling stripped of any sensitive boundary, interrogated and, in my case, as if I was a possible suspect in my mother’s suicide,” she remembered.

The renowned American artist committed suicide on April 30, at age 76, after suffering self-inflicted gunshot wounds. She suffered from “significant” anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. Judd stated that she was shocked to discover her mother’s death and that she was able to answer questions from the police “that I never would have answered on any other day,” without thinking about whether the general public would be able to gain access to these questions in the future. Since Naomi’s death, a lot of information concerning her death has been divulged to people, such as photographs, videos, and even interviews with family members, and Judd is fighting to ensure her family’s rights are protected. their privacy.

“In the immediate aftermath of a life-altering tragedy, when we are in a state of acute shock, trauma, panic, and distress, the authorities show up to talk to us,” she wrote, “Because many of us are socially conditioned to cooperate with law enforcement, we are utterly unguarded in what we say.” “I never thought to ask my own questions, including, is your body camera on? Am I being audio recorded again? Where and how will what I am sharing be stored, used, and made available to the public?” Ashley stated that she didn’t blame the police officers on the scene for the incident and instead pointed out the “terrible, outdated interview procedures and methods of interacting with family members who are in shock or trauma,” that she thought that they were instructed to follow.

She said that documents of conversations made during times of emotional distress, where people aren’t able to consider whether their words are public or not or not, should be kept in a secure place and suggested that the current law enforcement practices “revictimize” family members. “I don’t know that we’ll be able to get the privacy we deserve…I do know that we’re not alone,” Judd stated during her article. “We feel deep compassion for Vanessa Bryant and all families that have had to endure the anguish of a leaked or legal public release of the most intimate, raw details surrounding a death.”

Ashley stated that the family and she had filed an early August petition to ask the courts not to divulge documents from the investigation file relating to her deceased mother’s death. Ashley asked the judges to close documents from the “interviews the police conducted with us at a time when we were at our most vulnerable and least able to grasp that what we shared so freely that day could enter the public domain.” The request was not to keep family secrets secret however but to preserve respect for the honor of her mom as well as to safeguard their family from injury. “We ask because privacy in death is a death with more dignity,” she wrote “And for those left behind, privacy avoids heaping further harm upon a family that is already permanently and painfully altered.”

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