Naya Rivera's Sister Talks Aftermath of 'Glee' Star's Death and How She Coped

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Nickayla Rivera is reflecting on her sister Naya Rivera's death, and how she coped after her tragic death. In a video titled "allow me to reintroduce myself," posted on her YouTube two days before Naya's birthday, the 28-year-old model first touched on her background and upbringing, before sharing how Naya's death changed her life.

Nickayla expressed that she was mentally in a "dark place," worrying about her career and future. She then thought "2020 was going to be my year," until the family suffered the tragic loss.

"In July of 2020, my sister, Naya, passed away. And when that happened, I was in complete shock. My whole family was in complete shock," she said. "It was like someone pulled the rug from under us and we didn’t see it coming. The dark place that I was in before only progressed when that happened. At that time, I had no thoughts of my future. I had no thoughts of myself really. I was only just experiencing pain."

"I realized that the pain that I was experiencing wasn’t going to go anywhere until I decided to find the good in this world," she continued. "So, from then on, I went on this journey of discovering who I was. I started by quitting my vape that I had been smoking for two years."

And while quitting was "really hard," she felt "so empowered" and that she "could do anything after that." Nickayla also picked up journaling and started to write down her feelings, as well as began going to therapy.

"I said no to doing a lot of things that I didn‘t want to do, but normally would for other people. I started putting myself first. I became mindful and observed how I felt each day," she shared. "I started asking myself the tough questions of, 'What’s stopping me from being myself? What past hurt am I still holding onto? And why am I not living like every day is a gift?' Because it is."

After answering all those questions to herself, her whole perspective changed. "I found myself. I can say that I am a completely changed person," she admitted, before encouraging people to live their life to the fullest because "the next moment is not promised."

Nickayla's video was published two days before what would have been Naya's 35th birthday. The Glee star went missing on July 8 following a boat ride with her then-4-year-old son, Josey, on California's Lake Piru. Her body was recovered five days later. Naya's death was ruled an accidental drowning. She was laid to rest on July 24.

Following Naya's death, Nickayla moved in with Naya's ex-husband, Ryan Dorsey, to take care of Naya and Ryan's now 6-year-old son, Josey. A source previously told ET that Nickayla and Ryan were not involved romantically and that she moved in to help care for her nephew and give him the best childhood possible alongside Ryan.

Naya and Nickayla's father, George, also told ET that he wasn't bothered in the slightest by tabloid rumors because he knew his younger daughter and Ryan were doing the best thing for Josey.

"I'm used to hearing about people’s opinions and if you're going to sit and let any people's opinions guide any kind of decisions for you, I don't know if you've got the inner strength to either be in the business or do something right, so that didn't bother me at all because we knew we were doing the right thing, and that's what we did," he said. "Nickayla is an amazing individual, she has got a lot of love for her sister, very close. Again, we talk about pride as a father, really, it's not about modeling, it's not about acting ... it's about what type of person you are. That's what it shows me, what type of person she is -- very strong and resilient, right, that's what you have to be. You have to understand, we have to overcome some things, do the best you can with what you have."

See more in the video below.

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