12/12/2013 AT 10:50 AM ET
“I really feel like I’m still trying to figure out all of this. It’s been only a few months,” the singer and actress says in an interview airing Thursday on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
One thing she knew she needed shortly after his death – to get back to work and the people she considers her family.
“Going to work is no harder than being at home and being in the house and opening up a closet and seeing a pair of shoes,” says Michele, 27.
“Grief goes with you every day, 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. And it obviously has its own triggers. But at the end of the day, I feel so safe there.”
For Michele, the question has become: What to do with that grief now? As she sees it, there are two options.
“My mom has experienced a lot of loss in her life, and she told me at one point that there is an empowerment that comes with grief. At some point you find it. It’s very hard, but you will find it,” says Michele.
“I think at a certain point you can choose to sort of fall from this, or you can choose to rise. And that’s what I’m just trying to do. … I know that that’s what he would have wanted, to just do my best and to hopefully make something positive for where I go in the rest of my life.”
Visiting DeGeneres’s show is particularly special for Michele, too, because it’s where Monteith once publicly declared his love for his costar after they had initially kept their relationship quiet.
“It’s one of my favorite memories,” says Michele. “I remember when he came home that night, he kind of puffed out his chest, and he was like, ‘I talked about you on Ellen today,’ and I was so happy. He’s such a private person, and I literally lived every day of my life feeling like the luckiest girl in the whole world.”