On Monday, four days after she disappeared while swimming with her son in California’s Lake Piru, Naya Rivera’s body was found and identified by authorities.
The beloved Glee star and mother of one was just 33 years old.
In a heartbreaking coincidence, Rivera’s remains were discovered on July 13, the same date that her former co-star Cory Monteith passed away in 2013.
A difficult time for Rivera’s castmates has been made even more challenging by macabre talk of a “Glee curse” and rumors of discord among the group of friends who found fame together.
Lea Michele was criticized for her failure to issue a statement in the wake of Rivera’s disappearance, and other former Glee stars complained of the public’s morbid fascination with the details of Naya’s final hours and the search for her body.
But now that her loved ones have been granted some closure, the focus can shift from the details of Rivera’s death to the beauty of tragically short time on Earth.
Michele paid tribute to both Monteith and Rivera by sharing never-before-seen photos from the Glee set on her Instagram Story.
The undoubtedly grief-stricken star — who is currently pregnant with her first child — let the images do the talking for her.
Michele certainly wasn’t alone in her grief, as various members of the Glee ensemble took to social media to share fond memories and mourn the loss of a great talent and a kind soul.
“Rest sweet, Naya,” wrote Jane Lynch, who played Sue Sylvester on the show.
“What a force you were. Love and peace to your family.”
“My Naya, my Snixxx, my Bee. I legitimately can not imagine this world without you,” tweeted Kevin McHale, who played Artie Abrams on the series.
“I’m not religious by any means, but you’d be hard-pressed to convince me that Cory didn’t help find our girl today,” he added.
“These 2, in many ways, were the male and female versions of one another. So nice, cared deeply, were stupidly talented, the most fun, and really really good people.”
On Instagram, Chris Colfer, who played Kurt Hummel on Glee, shared a lengthy triubte to the woman he called one of his closest friends.
“How can you convey all your love and respect for someone in one post?” Colfer wrote.
“How can you summarize a decade of friendship and laughter with words alone? If you were friends with Naya Rivera, you simply can’t. Her brilliance and humor were unmatched,” he continued.
“Her beauty and talent were otherworldly. She spoke truth to power with poise and fearlessness. She could turn a bad day into a great day with a single remark,” Colfer went on.
“She inspired and uplifted people without even trying. Being close to her was both a badge of honor and a suit of armor,” he concluded.
“Naya was truly one of a kind, and she always will be. Sending all my love to her wonderful family and her beautiful son.”
“Naya made me laugh like no one else on that set. I always said it while we were working together and I’ve maintained it ever since,” wrote Darren Criss, who played Blaine Anderson on the show.
“Her playful, wicked sense of humor never ceased to bring a smile to my face,” he continued.
“And even as I sit here, struggling to comprehend, gutted beyond description- the very thought of her cracks me up and still brings a smile to my face. That was Naya’s gift. And it’s a gift that will never go away.
“Rest in peace you wild, hilarious, beautiful angel.”
Broadway legend and Glee regular Kristin Chenoweth summed her feelings toward Rivera in succinct, but poignant fashion, writing:
“Thank you for what you gave the world. I love you.”
Clearly, Rivera will be deeply missed by many — but her contributions, her talent, and her indomitable spirit will live on in the hearts of family, friends, and a legion of fans.
Naya Rivera Dead at 33; Star’s Body Recovered from California LakeStart Gallery
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