Heath Ledger

Ash Knotek/ZUMAPress.com

It's hard to believe it's been a year since Heath Ledger so suddenly, shockingly and tragically passed away.

On the first anniversary of his death, the now two-time Oscar nominee's three sisters spoke out in their native Australia about their brother, his legacy and how deeply they still feel the loss.

"Today is the anniversary of Heath's passing," sister Kate Ledger told Australian media Thursday in a written statement. "To us (his family) it seems like merely yesterday and we are still all nursing broken hearts. Like anyone who loses a family member, it has opened our eyes to the intense suffering and painful journey that is death.

"We feel truly blessed to have Heath's beautiful daughter, Matilda and her lovely mom, Michelle," in our lives. And although we are physically challenged at times by the tyranny of distance, we are always in constant contact and take every opportunity possible to catch up. Michelle is doing an amazing job with 'our girl' and together we will cherish every moment of her steps through life."

Added Heath's half-sister, Ashleigh Bell: "Today is also a day for us to celebrate, with the news of Heath's Oscar nomination. Although we would love to have him here with us, we are so proud and so excited on his behalf. In Heath's words, he had 'the time of his life', portraying the Joker and said that 'it was the most fun he'd ever had making a film'. On Heath's behalf we thank the Motion Picture Academy for recognizing his work.

"What an unbelievable legacy he has left for Matilda and our family. We will take this opportunity today to honor his wonderful life and take comfort in knowing Heath will continue to touch future generations through this amazing art form."

Ledger was nominated today for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his chilling turn as the Joker in The Dark Knight. He is also up for a Screen Actors Guild Award this weekend and director Christopher Nolan accepted the Golden Globe on his behalf Jan. 18.

A year ago today, the 28-year-old star was found dead of an accidental prescription overdose in his New York loft.

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