When he died, everyone—the big kids, certainly, but even Stella—got a huge piece of his spirit.

When all four kids are together, you can really feel him.

later that day, and her mom, Amy Yasbeck, was getting Stella’s backpack ready for her first week of kindergarten.

But first they were intent on fulfilling their daughter’s only birthday wish: to wake up with Peekaboo, her new tabby kitten, snuggled beside her in bed.

Ritter, whose acting career spanned more than three decades, died of an undetected aortic dissection on Sept. His family has already received more than $14 million in previous settlements, including $9.4 million from Providence St.

Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, Ca., where Ritter died.

But her priority remains raising Stella and helping John’s other three children—actor Jason (), 25, and college students Carly, 23, and Tyler, 20, from his first marriage to actress Nancy Morgan—cope with their father’s death. But you can go to the place in your heart where the person still lives and kind of touch the real reason you were with that person.

She sat down with PEOPLE’s Elizabeth Leonard to talk about her tragic loss and the power of the love they shared. Stella’s brothers and sister are the only ones that are privy to what that next day and those moments were like. When the “things” get rearranged and dispersed or given to Goodwill or meticulously kept, you realize that none of that really means anything.

Everybody really rallied around Stella and did their own thing at the same time.

John had specific relationships with each of the kids and with Stella, even though he only knew her until she was 5.

Sometimes they talk to me about it, and sometimes they won’t. It’s not just me going through my healing process or my family’s healing process. Not one of my family or friends or anybody who knows me to any degree has asked me about being set up.