“My beloved mother … who had come to believe that her mental illness would only get worse, never better, took her own life that day. The trauma of discovering and then holding her laboring body haunts my nights,” Ashley, 54, wrote in an emotional essay for The New York Times published on Wednesday, August 31.
The Ruby in Paradise actress penned the personal statement to object to a Tennessee law “that generally allows police reports, including family interviews, from closed investigations to be made public.”
In the essay, the California native detailed her experience giving interviews to local police which “felt mandatory and imposed on me.”
She wrote, “I felt cornered and powerless as law enforcement officers began questioning me while the last of my mother’s life was fading. I wanted to be comforting her, telling her how she was about to see her daddy and younger brother as she ‘went away home,’ as we say in Appalachia.”
Ashley promoted the New York Times piece via Instagram, writing, “Today, I pour my soul into describing the four interviews I was given no choice in doing the day our beloved mother died, and why such material should remain private for all families in the devastation the follows suicide. We need better law enforcement procedures and laws that would allow suffering families and their deceased loved one more dignity around agonizingly intimate details of their suffering.”
Musician Brandi Carlile voiced her support in the comments. “This is beautifully written and could change everything about the way these things are conducted. Really feeling for you today,” she wrote.
Katie Couric also sang the Heat actress’ praises, commenting, “Beautiful, Ashley. Thinking about you so much. Thank you for writing this important piece.”
“This profoundly intimate personal and medical information does not belong in the press, on the internet or anywhere except in our memories,” Ashley wrote. “We have asked the court to not release these documents not because we have secrets. We ask because privacy in death is a death with more dignity. And for those left behind, privacy avoids heaping further harm upon a family that is already permanently and painfully altered.”