Larry Strickland reflects on the “chaotic” months before his wife Naomi Judd’s death

Larry Strickland opens up about wife Naomi Judd's death, encourages people to take care of their mental health.

Larry Strickland opens up about wife Naomi Judd’s death, encourages people to take care of their mental health. (Photo: WireImage for NARAS)

Little did Naomi Judd’s husband Larry Strickland know how deeply the iconic singer was struggling before her death. Looking back, Strickland wishes he had been “more compassionate” to his wife of 33 years.

“I think back to New Year’s Day and I see moments and moments when my wife was normal and happy,” he said on the Academy of Country Music’s mental health series Lifting Lives. The check-in. “[It] it never occurred to me that she was as ill as she was.”

Naomi committed suicide on April 30 after battling anxiety and depression for years. The 76-year-old was preparing to embark on the Judds Final Tour with daughter Wynonna before her death.

“She lay on the couch a lot and I did it constantly [say], ‘Get up, you gotta get up, you gotta move. You’ve got this tour coming up, you need to get healthy or you’re not going to make it,” recalled the former backing singer. I haven’t been compassionate.”

Strickland, 76, has become visibly emotional.

“I look back on it now, and knowing what I know now, I wish I’d been more compassionate,” he continued. “More understanding, and kinder, and loving, and holding her and being with her rather than constantly pushing and shoving her. But I had no idea that was at the point where she was.”

Strickland, who hopes to help “remove the stigma” surrounding mental health, said she recently learned she was “extremely fragile, much more than I ever knew I was.”

“You can be driven insane in a split second, which has happened in my family,” she shared. “Continuous stress and anxiety can prompt you to take a break. It doesn’t take long.”

When asked what he’s currently grateful for, Strickland replied, “My stepdaughter, Ashley Judd.”

“She is a light in my life. No matter where she is in the world, and she travels a lot… she always calls [me]she shared. “He FaceTimes me every day. Everyday. It makes me want to cry just thinking about it because it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me in my time.”

Strickland promoted the ACM series in an accompanying interview with People. He called the months leading up to his late wife’s death “a very chaotic, hectic, hectic time.”

“It was extremely difficult. She had several therapists that she was seeing and her energy level had gotten really low. She was getting really weak,” she recalled.

Strickland said he’s been with Naomi “24/7” for the past 13 years.

“I’ve never left the house without Naomi knowing where I was going and when I’d be back. As far as taking care of myself, I’m not sure if it fits my situation. When you have a partner who has a mental illness, you walk that path with them,” he explained.

Strickland said she’s leaning on both of her daughters for support.

“We need each other so much to hold on to, and the comfort of our relationship, we have to have it,” she added.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call 911 or call the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 or text HOME at the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

MORE: Wynonna Judd on keeping her mother’s memory alive

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