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“Ryan has days when he very much struggles,” a source tells PEOPLE

By Emily Strohm
October 07, 2020 08:00 AM
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Naya Rivera’s ex-husband Ryan Dorsey and her sister Nickayla are still deep in mourning over the Glee star’s sudden death in July, but they’re doing everything they can to be present for her son Josey — including moving in together to raise the 5-year-old.

“Ryan is a great dad, but Josey needs a mother figure in his life too,” a source close to Dorsey, 37, tells PEOPLE. “Nickayla loves [Josey] so much and is amazing with him. Ryan knows that Josey will thrive with her around.”

While the source adds that “Ryan has days when he very much struggles,” having support from Naya’s sister has offered relief and comfort. “It helps him that he’s not alone with Josey. He’s very grateful for her.”

Ryan Dorsey and Naya Rivera
Naya Rivera (left) and Ryan Dorsey (center) with son Josey (right)
| Credit: Ryan Dorsey/Instagram
Nickayla and Naya Rivera
Nickayla (left) and Naya Rivera (right)
| Credit: Nickayla Rivera/instagram

On July 8, Naya, 33, went missing during a boat excursion with her son at Lake Piru in Ventura County, California. Josey later told investigators that he and his mother went swimming and after she assisted him back onto the boat, Naya cried out for help and disappeared underwater. Five days later her body was found. The cause of death was ruled an accidental drowning.

  • For more about Ryan Dorsey and how he's raising son Josey following ex-wife Naya Rivera's death, pick up this week's issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday
Ryan Dorsey, Naya Rivera
Ryan Dorsey and Naya Rivera
| Credit: Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

Since then, Yellowstone actor Dorsey, who was married to Naya for four years before their 2018 divorce, has struggled with the aftermath and sudden shock of becoming a sole parent to Josey.

“I don’t get good sleep. I’m sad every day,” he said in a Sept. 29 video on Instagram. “I go to sleep sad. Every night I’m staring at the ceiling and ... I think to myself how lucky I am to still have my mom, to have her help out in my life still, and then I think about how [Josey] won’t have that same opportunity.”

Ryan Dorsey and Nickayla Rivera
Ryan Dorsey, Nickayla Rivera
| Credit: getty images (2)

Reflecting on the aftermath of Naya's death, Dorsey called himself ″lucky″ to ″have family on both sides who support and who have helped out tremendously″ during this difficult time.

″And to have a young woman who is his blood and tití, who is willing to put her life on hold and sacrifice things, uproot her situation for the betterment of your child so when you put your child to bed, you don’t always have to be alone with your thoughts,″ he continued.

While Naya's sister is presently living with Dorsey, a source told PEOPLE last month that "there is nothing romantic going on between Ryan and Nickayla."

Big Sean post of Naya Rivera
Naya Rivera and son Josey
| Credit: Big Sean/Instagram

Following Naya's death, Dorsey first broke his silence by sharing a heartbreaking tribute.

"This is so unfair...there's not enough words to express the hole left in everyone's hearts. I can't believe this is life now. I don't know if I'll ever believe it. You were just here... We were just in the back swimming with Josey the day before. Life just isn't fair," Dorsey wrote on Instagram and Twitter, along with a photo of Naya and Josey.