"It's certainly been a pretty rough year," Michele said. "But I've been surrounded by such great people, such great family."
As previously reported, one of those people that Michele leaned on the most was her Glee co-star Kate Hudson. Following Monteith's death in July from fatal combination of heroin and alcohol, Hudson gave Michele a place to stay away from the spotlight as she grieved. "She was so wonderful to basically give me her home to myself and my family," Michele said. "It was so helpful to just, basically, have a safe place to process, and just have a minute to just breathe before getting back to my house with just has a lot of memories and stuff. So being someplace else to just have a moment was really nice."
"It's just really hard," Michele continued. "There's so many different emotions and to kind of have people watching every step of the way. But to have that time at [Hudson's] home to just really be in private with this for a moment -- before getting back to work and before going home -- I'm just so thankful to her."
However, Michele was back to work on Glee within a month, which upset some fans who thought she was returning too soon. Michele defended the move as her way of coping with the tragedy. "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 a closet and seeing a pair of shoes," Michele said. "There's this grief [that] goes with you every day whatever you're doing. When there's great moments, hard moments. So I'd rather, for me, be at work with the people who I love that are going through [it.] It obviously has its own triggers, but at the end of the day I feel so safe there. And like I said, they're my family."
In addition to her starring role on Glee, Michele is getting ready to release her debut album, Louder, on Feb. 28. Listen to her first single, "Cannonball," here.
Check out Michele's full interview below to hear one of her favorite memories of Monteith: