Benjamin Keough, the son of Lisa Marie Presley and grandson of Elvis Presley, died by suicide in July 2020. He was 27. In a candid interview with the New York Times, Riley opened up about her grieving process, explaining the past year felt "like I was thrown into the ocean and couldn't swim."
"The first four or five months, I couldn't get out of bed," the 32-year-old shared. "I was totally debilitated. I couldn't talk for two weeks."
Benjamin and Riley, whose father is musician Danny Keough, were extremely close.
"It's very complicated for our minds to put that somewhere because it’s so outrageous," the Zola star continued. "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 was able to get out of bed by leaning on friends and her husband, Ben Smith-Petersen. However, she made sure to tackle her grief head-on.
"I wanted to make sure that I was feeling everything and I wasn't running from anything," she explained.
The actress found a sense of purpose in wanting to help others navigate death, so she became a death doula eight months after Benjamin passed. (A death doula is someone who assists and guides a person through the process of their death.)
"That's really what's helped me, being able to put myself in a position of service," she told the Times. "If I can help other people, maybe I can find some way to help myself."
Riley said she has a new outlook on life.
"There's this sense of the fragility of life and how every moment matters to me now," she explained.
Riley keeps the memory of her brother alive on social media, often posting tributes to Benjamin. July 12 marked the one year anniversary of his death.
If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
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