It’s been nine months since Naomi Judd’s death and Wynonna Judd said she’s “still grieving.” Wynonna is out on tour, something she was conflicted about initially. The senior member of the mother-daughter duo The Judds died by suicide just weeks after the pair announced their farewell tour.
“My initial decision was no. I was going through such hell, it felt like I couldn’t see anything. I was blinded by the sadness. It was like trying to paint a picture with your eyes closed. How’s that picture gonna turn out?” Wynonna explained to Vulture.
“So I went to people that I really love and trust and got counsel. These people said things like, ‘I think it’s important for you to remember that the fans are there for you. I think it’s important to remember that the music is healing,'” the 58-year-old performer continued. The Grammy-winning singer said thought about it and listened “to my gut, my body, my mind.”
“I could either stay stuck in this place I was in, or I could get up and move. I think it’s important to dance, I think it’s important to walk, I think it’s important to speak your heart. And I thought, Well, crap,” Wynonna added. “That’s what I would be doing on tour.”
Wynonna proceeded with the planned tour and enlisted a starry lineup of duet partners.
“When you’re depressed, for anyone reading this, the one thing they tell you to do is move. Move your body. Because it makes you feel better. Isn’t that simple! It’s not easy to do, because you want to stay in bed. Like right now, I’m walking around the room. Because it’s important for me to move and groove, as they say. So the tour became my move and groove.”
Although she’s moving her body all around the world on tour, it doesn’t stop the sadness from creeping in.
“Nights are difficult for me still because after the show, Mom and I would sit up in the front of the bus, look out the windshield, and eat popcorn. So I tend to have a struggle with carbs at night because of her,” Wynonna shared. “I think about the comfort of sitting with her up in the front of the bus. I didn’t realize then, and of course I do now, how precious that time was. I’ll be honest, there are times when I get really sad and I miss her and it’s like, ‘Wow, I’m on this bus going down the highway, just like before.”
Wynonna said she goes “through a withdrawal” after performing.
“It’s quiet,” the songwriter explained. “I travel with two dogs to help me with the loneliness, that missing piece of the puzzle because she’s no longer there.”
Although Naomi isn’t physically onstage, Wynonna honors her mother during “Love Can Build a Bridge.” A video of Naomi is projected on screen because “it was the last song we sang together,” Wynonna explained, calling it the “heaviest” part of the show. It elicits emotions during soundcheck, too. Wynonna told a story about a time she heard her mom singing the harmony of the song on screen.
“And without even missing a beat, I turned around and looked at the screen and said, ‘Mom, I’ve lost 20 pounds.’ My husband started laughing. He said, Honey, it’s still happening.’ It just caught me off guard — that was a knee-jerk reaction. Like, oh, there’s my mother. ‘I’m a good girl, I promise. I’ve done my chores.’ I mean, that’s me to a T,” she revealed. “I live in the moment, and the moments are sudden, and sometimes they kick my butt and they take my breath away. And then sometimes I just start to weep. And during that one, I just happened to whip around and say something snarky, because isn’t that what we do to our mothers?”
Wynonna is coming up on the 40th anniversary of her career.
“I marvel at the highs and the lows because they’re so high and they’re so low. My grandbaby was born ten days before my mother died. You tell me what’s goin’ on. This is nine months after she left, and I’m still grieving, and I’m still on tour,” she marveled, crediting her fans with keeping her going. “The fans have literally wrapped me in this blanket of absolute love and adoration, and I get so dizzy I have to sit down.”
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call 911, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.
MORE: How Wynonna is keeping mom Naomi’s memory alive