Working through grief after the loss of a loved one has no time stamp. But one year after her brother’s death, Riley Keough is finding ways to put words to what she’s feeling.
The grandchildren of late rock’n’roll legend Elvis Presley were extremely close growing up. But last year, on July 12, 2020, Benjamin reportedly locked himself in the bathroom at his girlfriend’s house and shot himself. According to his autopsy report, he had alcohol and cocaine in his system at the time of death.
Benjamin’s sister, Riley Keough, and his mother, Lisa Marie Presley, faced a difficult time ahead as they grieved the 27-year-old’s tragic death. Riley recently told “The New York Times” about how it’s been “a year of feeling like I was thrown into the ocean and couldn’t swim.”
“The first four or five months, I couldn’t get out of bed,” Riley Keough said. “I was totally debilitated. I couldn’t talk for two weeks.”
One year later, Riley and her family still struggle to wrap their heads around the loss. “It’s very complicated for our minds to put that somewhere because it’s so outrageous,” Riley Keough said. “If I’m going through a breakup, I know what to do with that and where to file it in my mind, but suicide of your brother? Where do you put that? How does that integrate? It just doesn’t.”
Riley Keough’s husband, stuntman Ben Smith-Petersen, has been an integral support system for her over the last year. As she turns to her close friends and family for comfort, Riley makes sure to remind herself that she can’t keep her feelings bottled up.
“I wanted to make sure that I was feeling everything and I wasn’t running from anything,” she said.
How Has Riley Keough Coped With Her Brother’s Death?
In the spirit of confronting her feelings instead of avoiding them, Riley Keough decided to become a death doula. She stays with dying patients and helps grieving family members process the loss in their life.
“That’s really what’s helped me, being able to put myself in a position of service,” Riley said about becoming a death doula. “If I can help other people, maybe I can find some way to help myself.”
While Riley Keough will always feel the pain of Bejamin’s loss, she also appreciates the newfound perspective she’s gained.
“There’s this sense of the fragility of life and how every moment matters to me now,” Riley said.
“I think growing up, I was always searching for answers,” she said. “Now I know that everything’s inside me. All you can do is surrender and be present for the experience.”