Bindi Irwin lost her father, "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin, in 2006 to a stingray attack – she was 8 years old at the time.
Now 15, Bindi said she receiving well-meaning words of encouragement from strangers, who all offered her the same advice, and it never held true.
"I remember after we lost Dad, so many adults came up to me and said, 'Honey, time heals all wounds,'" she told People. "That is the biggest lie you will ever hear. It doesn't."
"That kind of sadness never goes away," she added. It's like losing a piece of your heart that you never get back."
The nearly-16-year-old said she and her mom, Terri, and her brother Robert, 10, have leaned on each other to move forward as a family.
"When you lose a loved one, you come to these crossroads," she told the mag. "You can take the path that leads you down the aisle of sadness, or you can say, 'I'm never going to let this person's memory die. I'm going to make sure everything they worked for continues.' "
Bindi is doing her part to feed her father's legacy by taking working with SeaWorld as a youth ambassador and planning her family's annual crocodile research trip.
"Every day is a new journey for me, and I feel like in my lifetime, I've been blessed to experience such a lot," she said.
-- Erin O'Sullivan