How tragedy inspired Elvis Presley’s granddaughter Riley Keough to become a death doula

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Riley Keough becomes a death doula after brother's suicide. (PHOTO: Getty)
Riley Keough becomes a death doula after brother's suicide. (PHOTO: Getty)

She had her fair share of grief when she lost her brother to suicide – now actress Riley Keough is helping others deal with the loss of a loved one.

Riley, the eldest granddaughter of Elvis Presley, has completed training at Los Angeles’ The Sacred Crossings Institute, which offers workshops and classes to educate and certify death doulas.

“I think it is so important to be educated on conscious dying and death,” she says. “We prepare ourselves so rigorously for the entrance and have no preparation for our exit.”

A death doula is someone who helps a dying person come to terms with their passing. They offer emotional support to both the person dying and their loved ones.

benjamin keough
Riley Keough died from a gunshot wound. (PHOTO: Getty)

Dying with dignity is something close to the actress’ heart. Eight months ago, Riley’s younger brother, Benjamin (27), died at his own hand. An aspiring musician with a striking resemblance to his grandfather, he shot himself in the mouth after suffering from depression and other mental health issues.

READ MORE | Lisa Marie Presley pens heartrending note to her late son on his 28th birthday

As a death doula, Riley will be able to help others face death and deal with their grief. “I’m so grateful for this community and to be able to contribute with what I can,” she says.

The 31-year-old Star Wars actress has had a tough time dealing with her brother’s loss. “Mornings are the hardest. I forget you’re gone. I can’t cry because of the fear that I will never stop,” she wrote on social media last year.

Riley’s mother, Lisa Marie Presley (53), has also battled to come to terms with Benjamin’s death. The singer-songwriter, who is the only child of Elvis and Priscilla Presley, poured her heart out on what would have been Benjamin’s 28th birthday last October.

“Please wait for me, my love, and hold my hand while I stay to continue to protect and raise your little sisters [12-year-old twins Harper and Finley] and to be here for Riley,” she wrote.

“I know you would want that.”

More about death doulas

Death doulas help a dying person and their family navigate the end-of life process. Their aim is to make the dying person comfortable with death by visiting them, talking to them about their lives ending and being present in the moment of their passing. They also help the family to deal with a loved one’s death and in some cases stay to offer comfort after the loved one has passed on.

  • Services offered include:
  • Be a comfort to the dying person
  • Discuss last wishes
  • Assist with the grieving process
  • Hospice care
  • Plan funeral and memorial services

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