"I want you to know that we are all here with you, that grief looks different on everybody and I want you to be gentle and kind to yourself during this time."
Naya Rivera's "Glee" costar Heather Morris opened up about her grief with her social media followers on Sunday, as she also recognized the "importance" of their characters' on-screen relationship.
While Morris' Brittany S. Pierce and Rivera's Santana Lopez both started out as scene-stealing extras on the Fox series, they eventually became show regulars -- as their love story with each other became one of the series' most memorable and groundbreaking.
Paying tribute to the characters and getting candid on everything she's been feeling following Rivera's death in July, Morris posted a tearful video -- one which took her a few tries to get right.
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"I have done a couple of these already, because it's really tricky to film yourself and be really honest and talk personally," she began. "I have been feeling very heavy lately. I've been feeling this like aching in my heart to connect with my fans, to connect with everybody who's been feeling a little lost and confused during this time."
"I don't need to explain what the importance of Brittany and Santana's relationship was to all of you who are watching because most of you felt like it was your gateway into your current life, most of you felt like it was an inspiration to become your best self," she continued. "I want you to know that that was never lost on me. It was never lost on Naya. We both knew how special that was. I think she knew a little bit more than I did."
Morris said she started feeling just how moving their storyline was "a lot later" thanks to fans reaching out. Because of that support, she said she's "felt a really deep need to connect with all of you right now because I just know how important our relationship was to you all and I know a lot of you feel very lost and very far away from what happened, maybe a bit confused. And that's completely normal."
"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," she went on, choking back tears. "You guys helped create something for the writers and for Naya and I that made an impact that will last for a lifetime and beyond then. So I want to thank everyone here watching and I want to thank all the fans for your love and support."
As she neared the end of her video, she said she and the rest of the "Glee" family "are all here with you" following Rivera's death. She also reminded her followers "that grief looks different on everybody" and asked them "to be gentle and kind to yourself during this time."
"I think a lot of you may feel very far away and I hope this message will help you feel a little closer," she concluded. "Something that's helped me has been to write a letter or talk to her. I hope that helps. I really just wanted to connect to you guys and tell you how much I love you and I appreciate all of you."
33-year-old Rivera was declared missing on July 8 after her 4-year-old son Josey was found missing on a boat they'd rented on Lake Piru in California. Her body was recovered on July 13.