Lisa Marie Presley Was ‘Optimistic’ Despite Trauma and Grief

Lisa Marie Presley visited Elvis’ grave days before she suffered a fatal heart attack, as well as that of her late son, who died by suicide two years ago at the age of 27.

In a touching farewell posted to Instagram on Friday, Presley’s friend David Kessler, an expert on grief and loss who co-authored the seminal 2005 book On Grief and Grieving with psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, described the late singer-songwriter as “a loyal daughter and devoted mother.”

“The loss of her son inspired her to work toward becoming an advocate for those who are struggling with the heartbreak of grief,” Kessler wrote.

Kessler said he met Presley—a mother of four who died after suffering a heart attack on Thursday at the age of 54—after her son Ben died in 2020. She reached out to him, according to Kessler’s post, “not because I was a grief expert, but because I was someone who also had a child die. It became an improbable friendship but that is how grief works.”

Last weekend, the pair traveled to Memphis for what would have been Elvis’ 88th birthday, Kessler wrote.

“She had countless invites for the weekend, but for her, there were only three important ones: being at her father’s birthday celebration, spending time at her son and father’s grave after the tours left Graceland, and meeting with a recently bereaved mother…Last weekend was so much fun and she was optimistic. Graceland was her happy place and the employees who all knew her shared that she was looking so much better.”

At the gravesites, Presley and Kessler “talked about the heartbreak she grew up with and the more recent devastation of her son’s death. She showed me where she would be buried someday. I said a long time from now…and she said yes, I have so much to do.”

That day came sooner than either of them expected.

Harry Nelson, a lawyer and author whose 2019 book, The United States of Opioids: A Prescription For Liberating A Nation In Pain, featured a foreword by Presley, told The Daily Beast that her first concern about contributing was if it could be detrimental to her children in any way.

“I remember her pride and love for kids, who she was so proud of, and her worries about how they would be affected by the whirlwind,” Nelson said in an email. “…She lived with an already diminished level of privacy and was concerned how much more she could share. I had asked a few other people I knew who were also in the public glare and they all had said no; they didn’t want to share anything else that could change how people saw them. But after a few weeks, we spoke and Lisa agreed—saying that she was trusting me that it would make a meaningful impact for her to share her vulnerability.”

Last August, Presley wrote an essay on National Grief Awareness Day for People magazine. In it, she said she had been “living in the horrific reality of [grief’s] unrelenting grips since my son’s death two years ago.”

“Death is part of life whether we like it or not—and so is grieving,” Presley wrote. “There is so much to learn and understand on the subject, but here’s what I know so far: One is that grief does not stop or go away in any sense, a year, or years after the loss. Grief is something you will have to carry with you for the rest of your life, in spite of what certain people or our culture wants us to believe. You do not ‘get over it,’ you do not ‘move on,’ period.”

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