Writing a memoir has helped Rivers in the latest stage of the grieving process: moving forward

By Andrea Park
Updated May 06, 2015 04:45 PM
Credit: Christopher Polk/Getty

“She felt she had a great life and did a lot of amazing things and had no regrets,” says Melissa Rivers of her mother Joan, “but that doesn’t make the people left behind feel – I mean, intellectually you feel a little bit better, emotionally it doesn’t help at all.”

In an interview with PEOPLE Now, Melissa opens up about how she’s coping with Joan’s unexpected death last September.

“I’ve gained weight, which pisses me off!” she jokes, showing once more how much she’s like her famous mom.

On a more serious note, Melissa says she’s finding “a new normal. It’s adjusting to the new normal, where I’m not much questioning anymore what is the new normal, it’s like, ‘Okay, we’re in the new normal and how do we go forward?’ ”

Writing a book about Joan’s life, The Book of Joan: Tales of Mirth, Mischief and Manipulation, also helped Melissa with the grieving process. One of the topics she covers is her mother’s love-hate relationship with rules.

“Rules applied to everyone but her,” Melissa says, “and she would be annoyed if people didn’t follow the rules.”

According to Melissa, Joan’s No. 1 rule was “Don’t take it all so seriously,” but her favorite was that the rules of parenting are different from those of grandparenting – “as in, it’s a free-for-all as a grandparent. I think her actual focus was to undermine me.”

Melissa also used the book as a way to share many of her mother’s quirks: “She used to hide money in Milk Duds boxes when she traveled,” Melissa shares with a laugh. “I didn’t find this out until December, and she passed in September and had done a lot of cleaning. But who would look in a Milk Duds box?”

But most of all, Melissa misses just talking to her mom.

“Every time something is funny – you know, something would happen during the day or I’d talk to someone and they’d say something, and I’d always say, ‘Okay, don’t forget to tell your mom, don’t forget to tell Mom, don’t forget to tell Mom, I can’t forget to tell her when I talk to her.’ ”

She adds, “I still find myself doing that, and it’s tough. But it’s also a very normal part of the grieving process.”

The next big step of the grieving process will be scattering her mom’s ashes.

“It’s funny, I’ve clung to my father’s [Edgar Rosenberg, who committed suicide in 1987], and I know now that I’m ready to actually scatter them both,” she says.

But she definitely won’t be mixing her parents’ ashes.

“She’d kill me! She said never mix her ashes with my dad’s,” Melissa says.

Joan stipulated that although her ashes could be scattered in the same place as Rosenberg’s, they couldn’t be mixed together “because she really never – as much as she got past the suicide, there was always a part of her that never truly forgave him,” Melissa says.

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