Credit: Adam Rose/Eddy Chen/FOX ©2012 Fox Broadcasting Co.

It’s been five months since Glee star Lea Michele (Rachel) lost her boyfriend Cory Monteith (Finn) to an accidental drug overdose, and it often seems like the eyes of the world have been watching her the entire time.

It’s mostly out of concern. Everyone wants to know how she’s doing, to see if she’s okay. But that means every choice Lea makes is scrutinized. And plenty of people have opinions about whether or not the Glee star is handling her grief “the right way.”

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One of those situations involves the fact that Lea went back to work on Glee only three weeks after Cory’s passing. Did she rush back to work too soon? Did she not take enough time to be alone with her grief?

Lea addressed this criticism during her December 12 appearance on Ellen. She starts with something we’ve heard before: that creator Ryan Murphy volunteered to give her more time off, but that Lea is the one who wanted to get back to work.

“Ryan Murphy, who’s so amazing, he came to Kate [Hudson]’s house [where Lea was staying] and he said, ‘What do you want to do? Whatever you want to do, we’ll do.’ I said, ‘I have to go back to work, we have to. This is our, they’re my family,’” she tells Ellen.

Then she adds something new: “What people also don’t understand is that going to work is no harder than being at home and being in the house and opening up the closet and seeing a pair of shoes.” Cory had his own apartment, but he and Lea were more or less living together at the time of his death.

“Grief goes with you every day,” she continues. “Whatever you’re doing. When there’s great moments, when there’s hard moments. So I’d rather, for me, be at work with the people that I love, that are going through the same thing.”

Lea freely admits that spending every day on the TV set where she and Cory met and fell in love “obviously has its own triggers.” But it’s not enough to make her want to stay away. “At the end of the day, I feel so safe there. Like I said, they’re my family.”

SourceEllen