Wynonna Calls Mental Illness "Cunning," Shares Her Regrets and Naomi's Legacy

Wynonna: "It's so hard to comprehend how someone can be so strong and yet so vulnerable."

Wynonna recently launched The Judds: The Final Tour, which was supposed to be the last tour with her mother, Naomi. Naomi died by suicide five months ago, and as Wynonna is in the midst of what she thought would be their swan song, she talked to People about the unexpected loss of her mother and the years of depression that preceded her death.  

"I can't quite wrap my head around it, and I don't know that I ever will," Wynonna told People. "That she left the way she did. That's how baffling and cunning mental illness is. You have to make peace with the fact that you don't know. Sometimes there are no answers."

Wynonna described her mother as "always so determined," no matter what happened to her. She recounts Naomi was fired, forgotten, and a single mom on welfare and food stamps raising two daughters alone. Yet, she never gave up.

"So think about that and apply it to every stinking part of life, including death," Wynonna said. "With the same determination she had to live, she was determined to die. It's so hard to comprehend how someone can be so strong and yet so vulnerable."

Wynonna said that when her mother died, she did the only thing she knew to do – she just kept going. That meant, she explained, honoring the final tour they planned to perform together. The idea had to be retooled to make it work in Naomi's absence, but Wynonna is now performing alongside some of country music's biggest stars – and her dear friends. Guests on the tour include Faith Hill, Martina McBride, Trisha Yearwood, Little Big Town and more.

"I have to celebrate the joy as much as I can," Wynonna said. "That's part of the reason I'm doing the tour."

Wynonna had been on tour with her husband in the weeks leading up to Naomi's death, making the singer feel guilty.

"It was incredibly painful for [my mom] because her favorite place to be was on the road and to be with me and [my sister] Ashley," she said. "She was by herself a lot. And so we were disconnected. One of my regrets is that I was so busy. She often talked about how lonesome it is in that house without us."

The women performed their hit "Love Can Build a Bridge" together on the CMT Music Awards on April 11. It was the last time they saw each other. Naomi died on April 30, the day before she was supposed to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

"The last thing I said to her was 'I love you,' and I'm so grateful for that," Wynonna said. "I've accepted it as much as I possibly, humanly can," she said of Naomi's death. "Acceptance and then surrender, and what comes after is finding meaning."

Wynonna wants to help others suffering from depression, which is why she is speaking out now.

"There is not one person on this planet that is not susceptible to some form of depression," she said. "The ones who need or want help, some will ask for it and some won't.

"Maybe her greatest legacy was in darkness, there is light."

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