In the five years since her son Cory Monteith’s death, his mother Ann McGregor is still coming to terms with the tragic loss.
“I still can’t pick up the pieces. My world totally stopped. And I’m a different person than I was before,” she tells People in a new interview.
Monteith died in a Vancouver hotel room on July 13, 2013, at age 31 with the official cause of death cited as “mixed drug toxicity.” Traces of heroin, codeine, morphine, and alcohol were found in his system.
McGregor was a single mother, raising both Monteith and his older brother Shaun, 38. She shared a close bond with her youngest son, whom she says was “advanced” for his age. Learning to read at age 3, Monteith skipped two grades and fell in with an older crowd, eventually leading to drugs.
“There was this disconnect,” McGregor explains, “because he was pushed so far ahead and always associated with older children, but he was still a boy.”
The “Glee” actor began drinking and smoking marijuana at age 13. By age 19, he had already completed two stints in rehab. “He was just always so curious. And the darker world just drew him in,” his mom says.
Eventually, Monteith got sober and landed the part of football quarterback Finn Hudson on “Glee”. But the pressures of the breakout series and Hollywood eventually led Monteith to fall back into his old habits as a user.
“He wasn’t ready for the Hollywood world. Drugs were his way of checking out,” McGregor says. Seven months before his death, Monteith admitted to his mother that he was using drugs again and checked into rehab in April 2013. But his mother believes pain caused by massive dental work later that spring may have contributed to his untimely death.
“He had little teeth and they were all capped,” she says. “He had a lot of medication in his system, which was not good for his body coming out of rehab. He didn’t have enough drugs in his system to kill him but for some reason it did because of his intolerance [built up by periods of intermittent sobriety].”
Now, McGregor says she is focusing on her son’s memory and legacy by working with the Vancouver-based charities Project Limelight, St. James Music Academy, and Amber Academy which support at-risk youths and provide performing arts opportunities.
“Cory believed in prevention rather than trying to fix people,” McGregor explains. “He wanted to give children opportunities to shine and feel good about themselves so they wouldn’t turn to drugs.”