Lea Michele Opens Up About Losing Cory Monteith on 'Ellen': "Grief Goes with You Every Day"

The actress gives her first TV interview since the death of her co-star and boyfriend

Lea Michele has already shown great strength and generosity of spirit in dealing with the death of her boyfriend Cory Monteith, who passed away in July at the age of 31. So it's no surprise that she had some candid and touching words for Ellen DeGeneres during her first talk show appearance since his death.

"It's certainly been a pretty rough year, but I've been surrounded by such great people, such great family," she said. In fact, she found a crucial source of comfort by returning to work at Glee soon after Monteith's passing. "Grief goes with you every day, whatever you're doing, when there's great moments, when there's hard moments," she said. "So I'd rather be at work with the people that I love who are going through the same thing."

The actress also reminisced about when Monteith talked about their relationship on Ellen, just a year ago.

"It's one of my favorite memories. I remember when he came home that night, he kind of puffed out his chest and he was like, 'I talked about you on Ellen today.' I was so happy. He's such a private person, and I literally lived every day of my life feeling like the luckiest girl in the whole world. I just thought he was the greatest man and so at that moment, that memory, it means so much to me."

Watch the interview below:

Michele is promoting her first solo CD, Louder, a "very personal album" which she'd been working on when Monteith died. The album hits stores on March 4.

"Cory got to hear all but two of the songs on the record," she told DeGeneres. In the weeks after his death, she met with songwriter Sia and recorded those final two tracks -- "Cannonball" and "If You Say So." "I think one of the hardest things is the feeling like you're gonna forget everything," she said. "So I felt it was important to see if we could come up with something."

Michele felt an instant connection with Sia's song, "Cannonball," which, she says, described her state of mind during that dark time. "You can get sucked into grief," she said. "You can lose yourself. If you don't actually die from it, you can lose yourself completely."

The song's lyrics perfectly conveyed her need to get out of the house and move on. "He would want me to live my life," she said. "He would want me to make something positive out of it. So if I could be a source of strength to anyone, that's exactly what he would want."

Watch her perform the song here:

Michele's earnest, hopeful attitude is both refreshing and heartbreaking. Here is a woman determined to carry on. In a pop culture age when positive role models are pretty rare, Michele is a great example of class and grace under fire.

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Jennifer Graham Kizer is an iVillage contributing writer. Follow her on Google+.

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