Sarah Drew is a class act. In a series of posts on her Instagram account, the now-former Grey's Anatomy actress thanked her fans and colleagues as her final episode on the medical drama aired on Thursday night. With nearly a decade of memories, the actress began by thanking a fan who had created a thoughtful collage of April Kepner's critical moments on the show. Drew then paid tribute to the character she has dedicated the past nine years to. Read her moving message for yourself below:

Thank you @ouafae_japril for putting together this beautiful April collage.???? It’s hard to say goodbye to characters I’ve played. It always feels like a little death, but this is different. I’ve lived with April nine months out of the year every year for nine years. She’s a part of me. I’m a part of her. Saying goodbye to her is big and deep and sad and beautiful and joyous. Its all the feelings mashed up into one. Because I’ve spent so much time with her, advocating for her, investing in her journey, she feels like a real person to me. She’s been through a lot of joy and a lot of pain, and I’ve felt that joy and that pain while playing those scenes. Her stories have made their way deep into my soul. So it is hard to let her go. She has taught me about courage, about taking a leap no matter what anyone else says. She has taught me about resilience. She was fired twice and then came back twice with her whole heart ready to throw herself into whatever was put in front of her with no resentment or anger. She lived through unspeakable pain and fought to heal not only herself but her marriage as well. She was beautifully flawed and unapologetic about needing to work through her pain in whatever way was necessary. I admire her courage. I admire her fighting spirit. I admire her ability to speak her mind regardless of what people think of her. And I admire her compassion and empathy. April’s faith journey has been especially important to me. It’s been my great joy to tell an honest story about an authentic, multi-faceted, complicated person of faith with a deeply felt faith journey. April’s journey has made an impact on so many, and it’s been my great privilege to hear their stories and know that through her, I’ve been able to meet people in their own suffering and to offer some comfort to them… to take away 1/60th of their pain (did you catch that reference?). This is truly why I love being an actor. To remind people that they are not alone. I am so grateful to Shonda Rhimes and our incredible team of writers for giving me the opportunity not only to tell this story, but also to participate intimately in the development of her journey.

A post shared by Sarah Drew (@thesarahdrew) on

It is touches like these that make actors favorites among fans. When Sarah Drew's exit was announced, it shocked and worried fans. Grey's Anatomy has been known to kill off its fair share of characters when actors exit. So April's fans had to watch with bated breath as she endured a touch-and-go episode that put her fate in question. Thankfully, the good doctor survived her ordeal, leaving the door open for her to someday return if the powers-that-be decide to make it so.

In her exit story, April ended up leaving the series on a profound personal and professional note. She left her position at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital to work with the homeless. While on a personal front, she ended up marrying her ex-fiancé, Matthew.

As for the actress, other shows must go on. After Grey's Anatomy plotted the character and Sarah Drew's exit, the actress didn't stay show-less for long. She quickly signed on to star in the pilot of the Cagney & Lacey reboot. Unfortunately, CBS eventually passed on the project.

The good news is you can still catch Sarah Drew in another project, and this one is a movie. She will star opposite her Grey's Anatomy co-star and on-screen husband Justin Bruening in the faith-based drama Indivisible, which hits theaters October 26.

As many actors are likely to tell you, there is a whole team of people that go into making a character come to life. In her second social media post addressing her Grey's Anatomy departure, Sarah Drew thanked those behind-the-scenes who played pivotal roles in her on-screen journey as Dr. April Kepner. Check it out below:

It is never easy for fans to have to bid farewell to a character. But touching messages like Sarah Drew's help make it a little more bearable. In her final goodbye-related post, Sarah Drew thanked fans of the show for their support. You can see this one below too:

Grey's Anatomy will return for Season 15, this fall on ABC. For what you can watch awaiting the medical drama's return, check out our summer premiere schedule. Want to know what other shows were renewed for 2018-19 broadcast season besides Grey's Anatomy? Then check out our 2018 network TV rundown. And remember, you can relive April's journey on Grey's Anatomy by streaming the series on Netflix.

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