How Ryan Dorsey and Son Josey Will Honor Naya Rivera on Mother's Day

How Ryan Dorsey & Son Keep Naya Rivera's Memory Alive

Naya Rivera's legacy has a new set of wings. 

Almost four years after the Glee star died in a tragic drowning accident, her 8-year-old son Josey and ex-husband Ryan Dorsey have found a meaningful way to honor her on Mother's Day. 

"When Josey was little he loved butterflies and going to the butterfly garden at the Natural History Museum in L.A.," Ryan exclusively told E! News. "Last year we released a bunch of butterflies while FaceTiming Grandma in honor of Naya.  He released them and said 'Happy Mother's Day in heaven, Mommy!'"

He added of the moment, "It was equally so heart breaking and sweet."

And while Naya's passing is "still so surreal" for the 40-year-old, he and Josey are finding comfort in their butterfly release. 

"We plan to do that again this year," he said of the May holiday. "Make it a tradition."

Last year, Ryan—who was married to Naya between 2014 and 2018—documented the sweet moment on social media, sharing images of Josey smiling as he held butterflies up to the sky. 

"His spirit is incredible…" Ryan wrote of his son at the time. "Hug 'em if ya got 'em."

photosNaya Rivera: Life in Pictures

Ryan has previously opened up about helping Josey—who was only four at the time of Naya's death—go through life without his mother and the challenges that emerge as Josey grows up. 

Gregg DeGuire/Getty Images

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"A lot of the kids find out what his dad does for work. They'll also find out about his mom, which is always something that's tough to navigate," Ryan told E! News in March 2023. "It's always a reminder of the obvious. Something that's never going to change is what happened and him having to deal with it daily. As he crosses these milestones as a kid growing up, kids talk about their moms at school and dealing with his situation is very unique."

But as Josey has gotten older, his curiosity about his mother and desire to learn about her has only increased—a journey Ryan is happy to guide him along when the time is right. 

"He's never going to forget his mom," the Pitch actor noted. "He's interested in watching things and looking at her work one day. That stuff will speak for itself and he'll really get to appreciate the impact she had on people and how talented she was and who his mom was on the outside, not just in his home life."

Keep reading for some of Josey's sweetest moments.