Bindi: “The sadness never goes away.”

On her 16th birthday, Bindi remembers her dad.

“I remember after we lost Dad, so many adults came up to me and said, ‘Honey, time heals all wounds’. That is the biggest lie you will ever hear. It doesn’t.”

That is what Bindi told  PEOPLE Magazine on the eve of her 16th birthday. Appearing on the cover for her 16th birthday (which she is celebrating today), Bindi talks about the loss of her father, Steve Irwin, who died in 2006 from a stingray attack.

She says, “That kind of sadness never goes away. It’s like losing a piece of your heart that you never get back.”

While Bindi is known for being in the spotlight – crusading for animals and educating her peers on what’s important – this is one of the first times Bindi has spoken openly about her grief.

“When you lose a loved one, you come to these crossroads. 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.’ ” 

That is Bindi has taken over her father’s conservation work.

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As for her 16 years, she says, “Every day is a new journey for me and I feel like in my lifetime, I’ve been blessed to experience such a lot.”

Bindi also posted the below photo to her instagram account with the caption:

Well…it’s official! I am 16 today, and so excited to begin the new chapter of my life. I am forever grateful for the love and support of my beautiful family. Mum – you are the strongest woman I know. Robert – you are so clever, you are truly the scientist of the family and always teaching me things! Dad – I wish you could be here today, I miss you. I love you so much. As I turn 16 today, there is a fire in my heart and I embrace the adventures yet to come. With the love of my family, together we will be able to undertake and accomplish anything.

Happy Birthday Bindi.

CLICK THROUGH the gallery to see Bindi growing up:

Want more? Try:

When Parenting Breaks Your Heart.

Bindi tells her fellow teens to cover up: “You’re trying too hard.”

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