On Friday, the TV personality said goodbye to her fellow co-hosts — Sharon Osbourne, Julie Chen, Sheryl Underwood and Sara Gilbert — in an emotional last episode after six years on the CBS daytime show.
“I feel like somebody who just graduated from college,” Tyler, 46, told PEOPLE after filming. “I had an extraordinary experience that is going to shape me for the rest of my life, but it hasn’t quite settled in yet. That’s the best way that I can describe it.”
When the show returns for season 8 in September without Tyler, though, that’s when she thinks her exit will really sink in.
“I remember walking off stage and seeing the ladies shooting promos for season 8, and I wasn’t there,” she recalled. “That was bittersweet because you think, That’s my family out there without me.”
During her final episode, the cast toasted to Tyler’s time on the show by sharing their favorite memories — including the time she picked Gilbert up like a “Heisman Trophy” when she announced her pregnancy — and the impact she has had on each of their lives.
“I was incredibly delighted at how generous and kind and supportive they were,” Tyler said. “In a year or 20 years from now, I’m still going to be reflecting on what they said to me today and what it means to me as a woman, as a friend and as an artist — it was extraordinary.”
When Tyler first announced her departure from the show in June, she explained that she wanted to take time to focus on her other projects and directing career, as the latter is what she “wants to do with the rest of my life.”
Of course, Tyler has the full support of her co-hosts — and even sealed her last day with a kiss from Chen!
“All of them told me that they believed in me, and I believe in them,” she said. “These women made me feel brave, they made me feel bold and energized and ready to pursue my dreams.”
Though her time on the show may be over, Tyler assures that her lifelong friendships with Osbourne, Chen, Gilbert and Underwood won’t be.
“We’ve all made a real vow to stay connected to each other,” she explained. “It’s hard when you don’t see somebody every morning but now each encounter is going to be that much more meaningful. We have plans to meet in other countries and girls’ nights out and cocktails!”
As for who might be a perfect fit to take over her seat at the table in the new season, Tyler joked, “Nobody can replace me.”
“We spent six years honing and refining chemistry over time, and whoever comes in is going to have to find a way to step up to that challenge,” she said. “I know that the women are going to find someone really extraordinary, honest and vulnerable.”
Since her very first appearance on the show in 2011, Tyler has learned a lot about herself throughout this “once in a lifetime” experience.
“I’m a braver woman than I thought I was,” she said. “I’ve learned so much in these six years from these four women and it makes me optimistic about how much more I have to learn and how open I can be to new experiences and new transformations. I’m looking forward to the next chapter.”