When Lea Michele lost her longtime love, Cory Monteith, on July 13, 2013, her world was completely shattered. But since that day, friends and coworkers have repeatedly praised the 27-year-old Glee star’s show of strength despite her incredible grief. During the Cory Monteith tribute episode on October 10, Lea sang the song “To Make You Feel My Love,” crying and inspiring our tears as she showed her true sadness onscreen.
“She’s ultimately the person who approved and chose that song,” Glee creator Ryan Murphy says of Lea’s emotional ballad. “She wanted to do something personal. [...] It was very brave of her to do.” In fact, Lea was the one who had the final say in whether Glee would even go on after her on and off-screen love’s overdose death.
“If Lea had said to me, 'I could never do this again, and I don't want to do this again,' you know, she is sort of the show, so what do you do?” Ryan explains of her ability to show up for work, despite her loss. “And I would've, out of respect to her as a person, said 'OK,' but that's not how Lea operates; that's not how she feels.”
Though she spent two weeks grieving privately and stayed completely out of the public eye, when Lea reappeared, she was wearing a familiar silver “Cory” necklace she’d bought a few months earlier — one she’s been seen with a number of times since the July tragedy. During the Season 5 Cory tribute, Lea’s character Rachel wore a similar “Finn” necklace to memorialize her lost love.
Her jewelry rememberance of Cory extends to her finger accessories as well: When Lea was spotted on October 5, it was with a diamond ring on her left ring finger. Though nothing has been confirmed, at least one tabloid has reported that Cory was planning to propose to his girlfriend of well over a year on her August 29 birthday.
After October 10’s Cory tribute episode, Lea tweeted a message to fans asking them to come together to pay tribute to him in another way. "TEXT CHANCE to 50555 to give $10 to @ChrysalisLA an amazing org that Cory and I supported together #chance2change," encouraging contributions to Chrysalis, one of the three main charities Cory supported. In fact, the Chrysalis Butterfly Ball in June was the site of Cory’s first public appearance after exiting rehab this past spring.
Cory has been gone for over three months now, but it’s clear that he is still a huge part of Lea’s life, and very often on her mind. Through her tweets, her Glee song choices, and her jewelry, Lea seems to be keeping her late boyfriend with her as much as possible. His memory will most certainly live on for all of those who loved him.