On 8th July 2020, the world was shocked by the news of Naya Rivera ’s death. The Glee star died aged 33 after getting into difficulty while swimming in Lake Piru in California, with her death being ruled an accidental drowning. Following hiring a boat, investigators now believe she managed to save her four-year-old son Josey by getting him back onto the boat, but couldn’t save herself.

Police and divers searched for Naya’s body for six days, with everyone hoping that she would be returned home safely. However, it was not to be.

Naya’s celebrity friends such as Glee co-star Heather Morris shared a deep and heartbreaking post on Instagram outlining her love for Naya Rivera and the fact that they were due to meet up this week. Jane Lynch who also played a character alongside Naya in Glee shared a powerful message of love for her on her Twitter account.

View this post on Instagram

The messages are going to trickle out. But you’re still here with me. And I’m not done remembering your legacy. You would tell me “you look so skinny” EVERY TIME you saw me and it made me giggle slash I loved it and when I told you how it made me feel…you said “well I’d always like to hear that I look skinny so I make sure to make others feel good like that.” We had a play date in the works for this week and I can’t wait for it to be over so I can stop thinking about how I missed our chance to be together. I fucking loved how you drank martini’s and no one would know you smoked cuz you were a mastermind at hiding it. I’m doing something everyday to honor your strength and it helps me to feel close to you. I love you Nay

A post shared by Heather Morris (@heatherrelizabethh) on

Social media is awash with tributes to Naya from celebrities and fans alike, with prayers for her family and sadness at the situation. The overarching emotion though however, is grief.


What Is Grief?

Grief, in the simplest of terms, is intense sorrow, especially caused by someone’s death. Generally speaking, there are ‘seven stages of grief’ a person goes through. The seven emotional stages of grief are usually understood to be:


  • Shock
  • Denial
  • Bargaining
  • Guilt
  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Acceptance


None of these feelings are unusual and they may happen in a different order. Everyone grieves differently and there is no shame in having a different experience to someone else. Grief, especially when it comes as a shock, in the case of Naya Rivera, will affect mental health negatively.



How To Cope With Grief

It may seem strange to be feeling grief about someone you have never met, but considering that she was part of many people’s lives, creating a connection through the screen, it makes it more understandable. Additionally, because of COVID-19 and so many of us having personal losses in our own lives, situations such as this remind us that we’re all grieving together.  So, if you, like Naya’s friends and family are feeling grief around her death, there are some things you could consider.


  • Acknowledge your pain – feel how you feel and don’t ignore it
  • Accept that grief can trigger many different and unexpected emotions – such as anger and rage
  • Understand that your grieving process will be unique to you
  • Seek support from your close social network – bring your friends and loved ones close, spend time together face to face, and accept the assistance that’s offered.
  • Support yourself emotionally by practising self-care – love yourself on the outside to help the inside
  • Try to maintain your hobbies and interests- doing activities that bring you joy and connect you closer to others can help you with your loss and aid the grieving process
  • Don’t let anyone tell you how to feel, and don’t tell yourself how to feel either. Your grief is your own, and no one else can tell you when it’s time to “move on” or “get over it.”


Most importantly to note, there is no right way or wrong way to experience grief – it is a highly individualised process and it is different for every person. Grief can feel very lonely, even when you have loved ones around. Sharing your pain with others who have experienced similar experiences can help.If you are affected by anything we have covered in this article, please consider calling Samaritans for support.

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