Riley Keough opened up about how she’s coping with the sudden death of her brother after one year.
In July of 2020, Benjamin Keough died by suicide at age 27. His death was ultimately ruled a suicide by gunshot, leaving his family, including his mother, Lisa Marie Presley, and his sister to mourn the sudden and unexpected loss. Riley and Benjamin, who are the grandkids of late rock legend Elvis Presley, were very close before his death.
Speaking to The New York Times, Riley explained that losing her brother in such a harsh manner amid the coronavirus pandemic sent her into a time of overwhelming emotions. She said the past year has been made up 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. I was totally debilitated. I couldn’t talk for two weeks,” she told the outlet.
Although Riley’s taken several steps to properly grieve her brother and wrap her head around the tragedy, she notes that, even one year later, it’s still difficult to really grasp the gravity of what happened to her family.
“It’s very complicated for our minds to put that somewhere because it’s so outrageous,” she 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.”
The “American Honey” actress said that relying on her family, particularly her husband, stuntman Ben Smith-Petersen. However, she took steps to make sure that she wasn’t hiding from her own feelings on the matter.
“I wanted to make sure that I was feeling everything and I wasn’t running from anything,” she said.
To do that, Riley became a death doula, someone who helps other people through the mental issues that arrive when someone in their life dies and leaves behind a grief that needs to be processed.
“If I can help other people, maybe I can find some way to help myself,” she told the outlet.
The process taught her to value her own life and the people in it, noting that she has a much better understanding of the “fragility of life.”
“I think growing up, I was always searching for answers,” she concluded. “Now I know that everything’s inside me. All you can do is surrender and be present for the experience.”
In addition to becoming a death doula, Riley has been sharing the occasional tribute to her brother on social media.
In a post shared shortly after his death, she described her late brother as an “angel” and “pure light,” and called him her “baby brother” and “best friend.”
Riley Keough talks coping with her brother Benjamin’s suicide 1 year later: ‘All you can do is surrender’