Why Naya Rivera’s death has made me so emotional

Naya Rivera in Glee

It’s weird, isn’t it? How celebrity deaths can really affect you, even though you didn’t even know them personally. Well, that’s how I’m feeling about Naya Rivera.

As I’m sure you all know, Naya’s body was found yesterday in Lake Piru, California, days after she went missing on a boating trip with her four-year-old son Josey. Police believe she used her last ounce of energy to get her son back into the boat but didn’t have enough to save herself.

Just writing that sentence has made my eyes fill up with tears. After the press conference confirmed the identity of the body yesterday, I spent ages scrolling through Twitter, seeing what other people had written about her, revisiting that photo of the Glee cast holding hands at the lake, and watching countless videos of people’s favourite Glee musical numbers featuring Santana Lopez. I laid in bed last night thinking about her, her poor son being in the boat alone, and how life can change in a flash, and seeing all the tributes from her co-stars has kept me feeling all the emotions today as well.

But why has her death bothered me so much? After all, Glee finished five years ago and I haven’t seen her in anything since, although I follow her on social media and her memoir has been on my to-read list since it came out in 2016. The honest answer is – I don’t really know. Possibly because she was a constant part of my life for the six years the show was on, and because Santana was hands-down my favourite Glee character. She had the best putdowns, sassy one-liners, the delivery of her burns were excellent, and she had the most gorgeous voice. I loved her version of Songbird by Fleetwood Mac, Valerie, Girl on Fire, and the Rumour Has It/Someone Like You mash-up. She began as a super bitchy, stereotypical cheerleader character and became someone with much more depth and heart.

I also think the nature of her death has a lot to do with it too. It’s so sudden and unexpected and I cannot believe it. The fact that her body was found on the anniversary of Cory Monteith‘s death is just too much. Admittedly, his death in 2013 upset me a lot too but I just can’t deal with the tragic circumstances surrounding Naya’s. It’s just so, so sad.

In honour of Naya, here is her singing Songbird on Glee:

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