July 29, 2013 10:20am PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Glee's' Lea Michele: 'Cory Will Forever Be in My Heart'
Glee star Lea Michele is speaking out for the first time about the loss of her boyfriend and Glee co-star Cory Monteith.
The actress took to Twitter to send a message of thanks to her more than 3.5 million fans for their support following Monteith's passing.
"Thank you all for helping me through this time with your enormous love & support. Cory will forever be in my heart," she wrote Monday morning, attaching an endearing photo of the duo together (pictured here).
Monteith, her Glee co-star for four seasons and boyfriend of a year-plus, died July 13 at the age of 31. An autopsy revealed that the actor died of "mixed drug toxicity, involving heroin and alcohol."
Prior to Monday's tweet, representatives for Michele indicated the actress was grieving alongside friends and family, including Monteith's relatives.
"Lea is deeply grateful for all the love and support she’s received from family, friends, and fans," her reps said in a July 16 statement. "Since Cory's passing, Lea has been grieving alongside his family and making appropriate arrangements with them. They are supporting each other as they endure this profound loss together. We continue to ask the media to respect the privacy of Lea and Cory’s family."
Michele, who plays Rachel Berry on the Fox musical, had been dating Monteith -- her on-screen love interest as well -- for more than a year. The young actress regularly compared the beloved Glee couple to Friends' Ross and Rachel, expressing optimism that the duo would ultimately wind up together.
Fox and producers 20th Century Fox TV have pushed back the fifth-season premiere of Glee to Sept. 26. Co-creator Ryan Murphy told The Hollywood Reporter that the plan is to pay tribute to Monteith -- whom he described as an "older son" -- with a tribute during the show's third episode, assuming he and the producers "can get it perfect."
"The right thing to do for the show, at least at this point, is to have that character pass," Murphy said. "When we do the tribute episode to that character, we'll have to do it in a way where the castmembers will not have to re-create feelings of grief that they’ve had [following Monteith's death] -- but do it in an upbeat way. If we can do this responsibly and help young people through these feelings, that’s the best that we can hope for."
Murphy -- who noted he was taking cues for the show from Michele -- said his team didn't intend to tackle the tribute episode until after last week's memorial, as so much of the cast and crew are still making sense of their emotions. Grief counselors will be on the Glee set for several weeks once production resumes.