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On Friday, a day after the political family learned that Saoirse had died following a suspected overdose at the Kennedy Family Compound in Massachusetts, RFK Jr. paid tribute to his 22-year-old niece in an emotional post on Instagram.
“We’ve lost our daughter and our children, their sister,” RFK Jr., 65, wrote beside a series of photos capturing Saoirse, whose parents are Courtney Kennedy Hill and Paul Hill, 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,” RFK Jr. added.
He also described each photo that he had posted, including a number of memorable moments throughout Saoirse’s life.
Many were snapped as the 22-year-old was spending time with her family at their famed estate in Hyannis Port where she passed away Thursday, while others showed her moving into her Boston College dorm and enjoying a Kenny Chesney concert with her uncle, cousin, and mother.
In a gorgeous, solo shot of his niece, RFK Jr. simply wrote, “A luminous, beautiful soul.”
Besides RFK Jr., several other Kennedy family members wrote touching tributes about Saoirse on social media, including her cousin Michaela Kennedy Cuomo (the daughter of Kerry Kennedy and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo), her aunt Kerry Kennedy, and actress Cheryl Hines (RFK Jr.’s wife).
In a lengthy post, Michaela, 21, highlighted how special her cousin was and vowed to honor her life and legacy by “carrying forth her loving compassion” and “embodying Saoirse’s soul.” Like RFK Jr., she also posted a number of photos with Saoirse.
“Anyone who’s path crossed Saoirse’s would instantly feel her infectious charisma and fervor for finding joy in every moment,” the Brown University student wrote. “Her beauty, inside and out, lit up every room that she entered.”
“No matter where you were, as long as you were with Saoirse you were going to have a joyful, hilarious adventure,” she continued. “Saoirse’s fun-loving soul attracted everyone to get to know her, and immediately upon deeper conversation you would recognize that not only is Saoirse the cheerleader that the universe needs, but that she is deeply passionate, authentically caring, and intelligent and insightful beyond her, or anyone’s, years.”
“Yesterday the world lost a light that enchanted everyone and everything around her. Let us honor her life by carrying forth her loving compassion, merriment and her passionate fight for women’s empowerment,” Michaela finished. “The world will be a better place for as long as we can embody Saoirse’s soul. Her legacy lives on through love.”
Her aunt Kerry, 59, posted the Kennedy family’s statement on her Instagram on Friday along with photos of Saoirse throughout her life.
“Sweet Saoirse,” Kerry wrote.
Cheryl, 53, echoed Kerry’s simple post and shared a photo of the duo in a sweet embrace outside of their Hyannis Port estate.
“My beautiful Saoirse 💙” she captioned the shot.
The Kennedy family social media tributes come on the heels of their joint statement Thursday, where they told PEOPLE they were “shattered” by Saoirse’s sudden death.
“Her life was filled with hope, promise, and love,” the family said. “She cared deeply about friends and family, especially her mother Courtney, her father Paul, her stepmother Stephanie, and her grandmother Ethel.”
Family matriarch Ethel Kennedy, 91, also added that Saoirse “lit up our lives with her love, her peals of laughter and her generous spirit.”
“Saoirse was passionately moved by the causes of human rights and women’s empowerment and found great joy in volunteer work, working alongside indigenous communities to build schools in Mexico,” she said.
“The world is a little less beautiful today,” Ethel said. “We will love her and miss her forever.”
On Friday, the local prosecutor’s office confirmed that police responded to the scene, in Hyannis Port on Thursday, at about 3 p.m.
Multiple news outlets, including the Boston Globe and New York Times, said authorities were first called about a reported overdose.
The Cape and Islands District Attorney’s Office did not specify the nature of the police call in their statement on Friday, beyond saying that Saoirse was found unresponsive at the scene and pronounced dead at a local hospital.
“An autopsy performed today has revealed no trauma inconsistent with lifesaving measures,” prosecutors said. “The cause and manner of death are pending the toxicology report.”
Both local and state police are currently investigating, according to the D.A.’s office.
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