Benjamin Keough died by suicide in July 2020 at the age of 27

By Gabrielle Chung
July 21, 2021 05:54 PM
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Riley Keough
Credit: David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty

Riley Keough is opening up about her grief one year after the tragic death of her brother Benjamin.

The Zola star, 32, spoke about the loss of Benjamin — who died by suicide in July 2020 at the age of 27 — in a new profile with The New York Times, sharing that the last 12 months had 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," she recalled. "I was totally debilitated. I couldn't talk for two weeks."

Riley, who is Elvis Presley's granddaughter and Lisa Marie Presley's daughter, went on to say that she still struggles with accepting Benjamin's death.

"It's very complicated for our minds to put that somewhere because it's so outrageous," she explained. "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 continues to publicly mourn Benjamin Keough
Benjamin and Riley Keough
| Credit: Riley Keough/Instagram

For Riley, she's been leaning on family and friends, including husband Ben Smith-Petersen.

"I wanted to make sure that I was feeling everything and I wasn't running from anything," said Riley, who completed her training as a death doula earlier this year.

"That's really what's helped me, being able to put myself in a position of service," she said of the role. "If I can help other people, maybe I can find some way to help myself."

The actress previously touched on her journey to become a death doula in an Instagram post on March 21, thanking her teachers for "training people in conscious dying and death work."

"We are taught that it's a morbid subject to talk about. Or we're so afraid of it that we're unable to talk about it... then of course it happens to us, and we are very ill prepared," she wrote at the time.

"I think it's so important to be educated on conscious dying and death the way we educate ourselves on birth and conscious birthing," Riley continued. "We prepare ourselves so rigorously for the entrance and have no preparation for our exit. So I'm so grateful for this community and to be able to contribute what I can."

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On July 12, Riley marked one year since Benjamin's death with a tribute on her Instagram, sharing a series of throwback photographs from their childhood.

"Today has been a year without you baby brother," the actress wrote in the caption. "I miss you endlessly every day."

Benjamin is survived by his mother, father Danny Keough, Riley and twin sisters Finley and Harper, 12, whom Lisa Marie shares with ex-husband Michael Lockwood.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.