Heather Morris took to Instagram Sunday, Aug. 9 to share how she's been grieving the death of Naya Rivera and to look back at their time together on Glee.
The 33-year-old actress told her followers she's been "feeling very heavy" and having an "aching" in her heart to connect with them, as well as with "everybody who's been feeling a little lost, a little confused during this time." She then reflected on her character Brittany Pierce's relationship with Rivera's character Santana Lopez.
"I don't need to explain what the importance of Santana and Brittany's relationship was to all of you who are watching because most of you felt like it was your gateway into your current life," Morris said. "Most of you felt like it was an inspiration to become your best self."
Rivera and Morris' onscreen romance was one of the first times viewers saw an openly lesbian high school couple on network TV—a notion that was not lost on either of them.
"We both knew how special that was," Morris continued. "I think she knew a little bit more than I did. I really felt it a lot later with all the messages and all the people reaching out. I knew the writers also knew that, as well. They were basically writing for the fans."
Keeping this in mind, Morris then explained she felt a "need to connect" to the fans and acknowledged how many of them are feeling "very lost and very far away from what happened," as well as "maybe a little bit confused."
"And that's completely normal," she noted while tearing up. "But I felt like I owed it to you guys because I think the fans were such a huge impact on our storyline. And, I want to thank you all for being such advocates and so supportive of Santana and Brittany's relationship. Because without you guys, it never would have existed. You guys helped create something for the writers and for Naya and I that made an impact that will last a lifetime and beyond that."
In addition, she thanked her followers and fans for their love and support. "I want you to know that we are all here with you, that grief looks different on everybody," Morris added. "And I want you to be gentle and kind to yourself during this time. I think maybe a lot of you feel very far away. I'm hoping that this message might help you feel a little closer."
Morris then shared that something that's helped her is to write a letter to Rivera and talk out loud to her. "And so I hope that helps," she concluded. "But I really just wanted to connect to you guys and tell you how much I love you guys and I appreciate all of you. That's it. That's all we got—besides my tears."
Rivera was confirmed dead by authorities on Monday, July 13, five days after she went missing while boating with her 4-year-old son Josey on Lake Piru in Southern Calif. Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub said Rivera and her son had gone swimming together and said Josey "described being helped into the boat by Naya, who boosted him on to the deck from behind. He told investigators that he looked back and saw her disappear under the surface of the water."
"There are a lot of currents on the lake that appear particularly in the afternoon," Ayub added. "We believe it was mid-afternoon when she disappeared, the idea perhaps being that the boat started drifting, it was unanchored, and that she mustered enough energy to get her son back onto the boat, but not enough to save herself."
In a separate post, Morris vowed to remember Rivera's legacy. "I'm doing something every day to honor your strength and it helps me to feel close to you," she wrote in part of the tribute. "I love you Nay."