Country

Naomi Judd’s widower, Larry Strickland, remembers the star’s “chaotic” final days

2022 CMT Music Awards - Red Carpet
Jason Kempin/Getty Images

The country world was left reeling when, in late April — just one day before The Judds were scheduled to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame — Naomi Judd died by suicide at her home at age 76.

But in a new conversation with People, the singer’s husband, Larry Strickland, reveals that the days leading up to Naomi’s death were filled with confusion, chaos and heartache.

“It was a very chaotic, hectic, hectic time,” he says. “It was extremely hard. She had several therapists that she was seeing, and her energy level had gotten really low. She was getting really weak.”

Naomi had spoken openly about her lifelong battle with depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation. Larry knew that his wife struggling in the months that preceded her death, but says the fact that she was suicidal came as a shock, even to him.

“If I had known where she was, I would’ve been softer on her,” he says, explaining that his days were filled with action: trying to make sure his wife ate, exercised and took her medications. “I would’ve been gentler and more understanding instead of tired and exhausted because it was wearing me out, too.”

If he’d known Naomi was contemplating suicide, he adds, he would have focused more on “holding her and comforting her instead of pushing her,” Larry reflects, saying, “I don’t know if that would’ve helped, but it certainly wouldn’t have hurt.”

Naomi died before she and her daughter Wynonna Judd were able to embark on their scheduled The Judds final tour. After her mother’s death, Wynonna recast the tour as a collaborative girls night, bringing a host of superstar women to the stage with her to perform The Judds’ biggest hits.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.