“I fell in love with David Jones,” Iman told the Guardian in 2014. “Bowie is just a persona. He’s a singer, an entertainer. David Jones is a man I met.”
In the year since Bowie died, Iman has remained every inch her fierce, trailblazing self, though she’s only spoken about her late husband explicitly a few times. As in the days before his death, she’s primarily paid tribute to his memory on social media.
Only a few hours before Bowie’s death was announced in January 2016, Iman posted a simple message on her Instagram: “The struggle is real, but so is God.” A day earlier, she’d written, “Sometimes you will never know the true value of a moment until it becomes a memory.”
“You could see after so many years of marriage that they were just like two teenagers in love,” Danielle Parker, a journalist who knew the pair told PEOPLE in Jan. 2016. Bowie’s will left Iman 50 percent of his estate, including all but one piece of his real estate holdings. (Their daughter Alexandra will get his estate in Woodstock, New York.)
The model was barely seen in public for almost a month following her husband’s death. She grieved quietly, keeping a small circle of the pair’s friends close. “It comes in waves, you know,” her longtime friend Bethann Hardison told PEOPLE in January. “He’s a great loss — not just a loss as an artist, but as a human.”
Her first public statement came in early February, a few days later, and it was a simple one. “Love and gratitude,” she wrote on Twitter.
But just a few months later, the model experienced another deep loss: Her mother, Maryan Baadi, died in April.
“May Allah grant her the highest jennah,” Iman wrote. (“Jannah” is the Islamic concept of paradise. Iman, who was raised Muslim, told Parade in 2009 that while she was “never a practicing Muslim,” she did consider herself one.)
A few months later, Iman posted a tribute to Bowie on what would have been the couple’s 24th wedding anniversary: A picture of the two on a beach with the text “The best thing about me is you.”
On Alexandra’s 16th birthday in August 2016, the model wished her daughter a happy birthday from both her social media account and her late husband’s. Bowie’s Instagram featured a picture of Lexi, Iman and the singer, along with a picture of him at 16.
Iman spoke publicly for the first time about 2016’s losses in September. “It’s been a tough year, but I’m holding up,” she told Good Morning America’s Joe Zee at a Tom Ford show during New York’s Fashion Week, her first night out since Bowie’s death. She revealed a gold necklace designer Hedi Slimane made for her, which simply reads “David.” “I’m wearing this until my death,” she said.
“You’re a survivor,” Zee told her. “Not as much as you think,” the 61-year-old responded.
On January 8th, Iman shared a series of tributes to Bowie, including a drawing of him as a child and another snap of the pair together on a beach. The captions read “Bowie Forever” and “Forever love.”