Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is sharing his eulogy for Saoirse Kennedy Hill with the world.
Two days after reading the emotional tribute to his niece at her funeral services, RFK Jr., 65, published the eulogy on Medium, where he remembered Saoirse for her charismatic personality, kind and expressive nature, and “endearing recklessness.”
In the piece, RFK Jr. also recalled all the fond memories of the 22-year-old, from their family vacations to funny encounters, to even moving her into her dorm at Boston College.
From the time she was young, RFK Jr. said his famous political family took Saoirse under their wing, in part because she was an only child.
“She became a sister or daughter to a hundred Kennedys, Shrivers, and Lawfords. We all considered her our own,” he said. “She had a knack for friendship that put her at the center of an enormous network of our relatives, and their friends, and their friends. She made herself the axel of a sprawling community. She was like a politician. Everywhere I went people knew Saoirse.”
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An adventurer at heart who enjoyed skiing, dancing, music, and social advocacy, Saoirse developed genuine connections with everyone she crossed paths with.
“She put out a bright light. Everybody loved her. She made people feel good,” RFK Jr. said. “She felt loved by everyone in this church. It was all authentic. She was very, very, very easy to love.”
This was perhaps even more evident, he said, when Saoirse wrote a candid piece for her school newspaper at the elite Deerfield Academy detailing her battle with mental health issues, including years of depression and a suicide attempt.
“Writing that article at Deerfield — reflecting openly and fearlessly about depression and recovery — might have easily made her unpopular. Instead, her raw honesty made her a magnet for others,” RFK Jr. recalled. “She transformed her own suffering into empathy and comfort for others.”
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“Saoirse always had an inclination to reach out to the most vulnerable. But now young people began confiding in her their deepest secrets,” he continued. “She became a thoughtful listener and trusted counselor. She never judged, she never gossiped, she never betrayed a friend.”
RFK Jr. added that a clergyman had fittingly called her a “wounded healer.”
“She connected to people on the deepest level. She met our broken world and all its troubles with kindness, compassion, understanding, empathy, humor, and courage,” he said in the eulogy.
Also detailed in the eulogy was Saoirse’s final hours, which were spent finishing a paper, having dinner with her grandmother Ethel Kennedy, going out on the town with a friend, and watching the sunrise from their Hyannis Port beach — a night RFK Jr. referred to as “a flight of her characteristic exuberance.”
“It was a perfect night and, as was her habit, she documented much of it on social media,” he said noting she was excited about flying to Los Angeles the following day. Sadly, that trip never happened.
“The two friends went to bed in Douglas’s room. Saoirse woke up with God.”
Towards the end of his eulogy, RFK Jr. praised Saoirse’s parents Courtney Kennedy Hill and Paul Hill for raising such an outstanding young woman, before finishing with some comforting words.
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“…We will say to each other ‘she’s gone.’ But she is not really gone, she’s just out of our sight,” he said of Saoirse’s passing. “She is still sailing with all her freight, her beauty, and her elegance and her speed.”
“And when she reaches the next port she will find a whole new group of Kennedys and Shrivers and Lawfords and other friends there to greet her with outstretched arms,” he continued. “They will welcome Saoirse, as we all did, when she came to these shores from Ireland at age eight.”
RFK Jr. also encouraged Saoirse’s loved ones to “use the inspiration of [her] memory to make ourselves better people” and despite the tragedy, expressed his gratitude for the time he had with his beloved niece.
“If anybody ever wondered whether God loves the Kennedys the proof is that he gave us Saoirse, this brilliant beam of light and laughter,” he finished. “Now, it’s time for us to cease being sad at her passing and to practice being grateful that we had her for 22 amazing years.”
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Saoirse was laid to rest on Monday, following a suspected overdose last week at her family’s storied Massachusetts compound. Her cause and manner of death are currently pending a toxicology report.
Shortly after news of her death broke, RFK Jr. paid tribute to his niece in an emotional post on Instagram.
“We’ve lost our daughter and our children, their sister,” he wrote beside a series of photos capturing Saoirse with her family. “The gaping hole that she leaves in our family is a wound too large to ever heal.”
“Saoirse was fierce, both in her love for her family and yearning for justice,” he continued. “A fearless adventurer, she inspired curiosity and daring in her friends. But her greatest gift was to find humor in everything and to give us all the gift of her laughter – and our own.”
“The gaping hole that she leaves in our family is a wound too large to ever heal,” he added of his niece, whom he referred to as “a luminous, beautiful soul.”
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “home” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please contact the SAMHSA substance abuse helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.
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