Maria Shriver reflects on the death of her cousin’s daughter, Saoirse Kennedy Hill

The NBC anchor and niece of Robert F. Kennedy wrote about finding stillness after Kennedy Hill's funeral.

CENTERVILLE, MA - 8/05/2019: In the center by the church door stands Maria Shriver for  the funeral services for Saoirse Roisin Kennedy Hill at Our Lady of Victory Church in Centerville.  (David L Ryan/Globe Staff ) SECTION: METRO TOPIC 06funeral
Maria Shriver, center, at Saoirse Kennedy Hill's funeral in Centerville, Massachusetts, Aug. 5, 2019. –David L. Ryan / The Boston Globe

Maria Shriver, an NBC anchor and niece of Robert F. Kennedy, spent August reflecting on the death of her cousin’s daughter, Saoirse Kennedy Hill.

Kennedy Hill died on Aug. 1 at the Kennedy compound on Cape Cod. She was 22.

Shriver wrote in her weekly newsletter that Kennedy Hill’s death was “sudden and heartbreaking,” and that it “stopped everyone and everything in its tracks.” Earlier, in an Aug. 2 Instagram post, she wrote, “A brave young woman left our world yesterday.”

In the newsletter, Shriver said she took Kennedy Hill’s death as “an invitation to delve into what felt dead and lifeless inside of me.”

You see, we can all walk around seemingly alive but feel dead on the inside. We’re all running around doing things that bring us no joy or meaning. We stay in jobs, relationships, or situations well past when we should, incorrectly believing that life doesn’t have more in store for us.


She wrote mostly about finding stillness. She recalled climbing a Utah mountain on the 10th anniversary of her mother’s death and breaking down.

I sobbed for my cousin. I sobbed for all those who are suffering. I sobbed for my own grief, sadness, and fears. I thought I was done grieving the death of my mother, my father, my uncle, my marriage, and my old identity — all of which unfolded in rapid succession over the last 10 years — but turns out, I wasn’t. I thought I was done grieving my youth, my children moving out, past mistakes, unrequited loves, etc., but turns out, I wasn’t. I wasn’t done with grief, and it wasn’t done with me. With time, the grief slowed down, and I found myself in total stillness — the kind where you can hear the wind and your own breath. Amidst this stillness atop the mountain came an extraordinary revelation. I opened my eyes, looked around, and realized I was OK. The word “survivor” even came to mind.

Shriver wrote that she felt huge relief on that mountaintop. She came to the realization that she was “already whole.”

She recalled sitting at Kennedy Hill’s wake, thinking about how she longed to find peace.

“Lo and behold, just a few days later, I found it,” she wrote. “It only took me 63 years.”

 Read Shriver’s full essay here.