Larry Strickland detailed the “chaotic” final months leading up to the death of his late wife, Naomi Judd, who committed suicide this year.
“It was a very chaotic, hectic, hectic time,” Strickland, 76, told People on Wednesday.
“It was extremely hard. She had several therapists that she was seeing, and her energy level had gotten really low,” he added. “She was getting really weak.”
The country superstar shot herself on April 30 following a long battle with debilitating anxiety and depression.
Strickland admitted to People that he “might have overdone it” in his attempts to help Judd, who was 76 at the time of her death.
“I was trying to get her to eat. I was trying to get her to exercise,” he recounted. “I handled her medications and had to make sure she had what she needed. I was trying every way I could.”
The former Elvis Presley backup singer said he also has regrets about the way he approached Judd’s mental health struggles.
“If I had known where she was, I would’ve been much softer on her,” he admitted. “I would’ve been gentler and more understanding instead of tired and exhausted because it was wearing me out, too.”
Strickland elaborated, “To know now that she was contemplating [suicide], I look back and just wish I had been holding her and comforting her instead of pushing her. I don’t know if that would’ve helped, but it certainly wouldn’t have hurt.”
Strickland said that he was by Judd’s side “24/7 … for the past 13 years or more” as his concerns for her wellbeing increased.
“I never left the house without Naomi knowing where I was going and when I would be back. As far as taking care of myself, I’m not sure that fits my situation,” he said. “When you have a mate that has a mental illness, you walk that path with them.”
Strickland has been able to lean on Judd’s famous daughters, country musician Wynonna Judd and actress Ashley Judd, for support as he continues to grieve his spouse of 33 years.
“We need each other so much to cling to, and the comfort of our relationship,” he said of Wynonna, 58, and Ashley, 54. “We have to have that.”
If you or someone you know is affected by any of the issues raised in this story, call or text the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988.