Wynonna Judd Says She Cries 'a Lot' After Mom Naomi's Death but It's Not a 'Sign of Weakness'

In an upcoming exclusive interview with PEOPLE, Wynonna Judd says her upcoming tour is a big part of her healing process

Wynonna Judd is reflecting on love, loss, grief and the power of music after losing mom Naomi Judd.

In an upcoming exclusive interview with PEOPLE, the country singer, 58, reveals the complexities of life without Naomi, who died by suicide in April at age 76.

"I'll tell you what I know about death. In death, there is life. I feel both at the same time simultaneously," she says. "I feel joy and sorrow. I'm walking in paradox. I'm literally a walking contradiction. I feel joy. I feel pain. I feel light. I feel dark."

Judd says that while she considers herself to be "pretty tough," she also has a "tender" side — and she's leaned on her "really wicked sense of humor," that she shared with Naomi, during this difficult time. At the same time, she admits the many layers of grief remain unpredictable.

"How am I coping? It depends on the [situation]," she explains. "I'm on the phone talking and all of a sudden I'll just begin to weep. Then 10 minutes later, I'm making a dinner and I'm talking to my husband about our date night. Then my granddaughter comes and I cry some more. I cry a lot. That's OK… It doesn't mean it's a sign of weakness."

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - APRIL 11: (L-R) Wynonna Judd and Naomi Judd attend the 2022 CMT Music Awards at Nashville Municipal Auditorium on April 11, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for CMT)
Wynonna and Naomi Judd. Jason Kempin/Getty for CMT

The "Love Can Build a Bridge" singer is summoning a deep sense of courage starting Sept. 30, when she kicks off The Judds: The Final Tour. The series of show dates was supposed to be a long-awaited reunion for mother and daughter, but in the wake of Naomi's death, Wynonna will go it alone.

"When you lose someone you love, it's like, 'Holy crap, this is really happening. Is this really happening?' Your brain goes, 'No, this isn't really happening,'" says Judd. "Then you go home and I realize, yeah, my mom's not here anymore."

Though Judd isn't sure that she's 100 percent ready for the journey ahead, she knows that it'll come with a chance to heal, making any nerves well worth it.

"This is my opportunity to step into a situation that I don't know that I am ready to do what I'm about to do, but I think it's going to heal me," she says. "I'm teaching what I want to learn, which is how to have peace and joy in a really negative [space]. I want people to know that they're loved. I want people to know that there is hope."

Judd will begin the tour in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and will play 11 dates through October before wrapping. She'll be joined onstage by special guests like Martina McBride, Faith Hill, Brandi Carlile, Little Big Town, Ashley McBryde and Trisha Yearwood. Then, she'll head to Mexico for five days to play Brandi Carlile's Girls Just Wanna Weekend at the Hard Rock Hotel and Barceló Maya Riviera.

Larry Strickland, Ashley Judd, and Wynonna Judd
Larry Strickland, Ashley Judd and Wynonna Judd. Mickey Bernal/Getty

Judd, who also opened up about losing Naomi in a CBS Sunday Morning interview airing this Sunday, made her first public appearance after the shocking death to accept The Judds' induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame just one day later.

"Though my heart's broken, I will continue to sing, because that's what we do," she said at the time.

Later, she confirmed on a CMT special in May that she would officially be continuing the tour as a means of honoring her late mother.

"The show must go on, as hard as it may be, and we will show up together, and you will carry me as you've carried me for 38 years ... So we will continue this spectacle," she said at the time. "That's what she would want, right?"

In the months since, both Wynonna and her sister Ashley Judd, 54, have publicly grieved Naomi, and in July, Ashley reflected on the different ways in which she and Wynonna's grief has manifested itself.

Naomi Judd, Ashley Judd and Wynonna Judd during Youth AIDS Gala with Ashley Judd
Naomi Judd, Ashley Judd and Wynonna Judd. Louis Myrie/WireImage

"Sister came over yesterday and spent the day with me and spent the night and we talked about mom, we talked about social issues," she said on the Healing with David Kessler podcast. "She gave me a foot rub and she's in a pretty different place than I am right now. And we don't have to be congruent in order to have compassion for each other and I think that that's a really important grace that family members can hopefully learn to give each other."

Both sisters have also been transparent in their discussion of mental illness, and Judd told CBS Sunday Mornings that she found the disease "mysterious."

"It is [a cruel disease] and people think it's a character flaw and they don't know that it's this incredibly dark and light experience," she said. "[Naomi] had incredibly great days in the middle of the dark days. That's why it's so confusing."

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741741 or go to 988lifeline.org.

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