By Samantha Highfill
Updated October 01, 2014 at 07:58 PM EDT
Credit: Bob Mahoney/The CW

Elena Gilbert has lost a lot of loved ones in the past five seasons. Not only did The Vampire Diaries start with the death of her adoptive parents, but from there, she lost friends, an aunt, birth parents, a caregiver, and her brother. But in the season 5 finale, she experienced a new sort of loss when Damon, the man she loved, died.

However, as fans of the show now know, Damon might have died, but he is by no means gone. (And the same goes for Bonnie.) So where we will we find Damon and Elena when we pick back up for season 6? Physically, they’re in two very different places. And emotionally? Well, the same rules apply.

For Elena, college life is full of the grief that comes from believing you’ve lost your boyfriend, your best friend, and your hometown forever. That being said, it might not be the type of grief you expect. “We do fast forward four months, so the initial shock grieving, we’ve already surpassed,” Nina Dobrev said. “Now we’re seeing the second phase of it, which is eerily deceiving and odd. It’s not a very conventional way of dealing with grief.”

From the promos, fans know that Dobrev is at least in part referring to Elena taking some sort of witchy drug to hallucinate Damon. But back in the real world, whose shoulder will she lean on now that Stefan’s missing in action? “Caroline is a rock, and Alaric’s back, so she does have the two of them,” Dobrev said. “But she’s also in a way shut them out a little bit as well.”

And thanks to the lingering effects of the Travelers’ Spell, we know that Elena (and all vampires) are no longer able to enter Mystic Falls, which makes it difficult for Elena to check on younger brother Jeremy, who remains in town with Matt and Tyler. “He’s in Mystic Falls and he’s going through his own grieving, so they’re still in touch, but he’s shutting her out a little bit and going through his own process. And she can’t really be there for him all that much,” Dobrev said. “There’s only so much she can do from where she is and she’s in her own world. She’s trying, but there definitely is a bit of a disconnect between them.”

As for Damon, he won’t exactly find himself grieving for anyone or anything. As Ian Somerhalder put it, “He’s pissed off. They’re stuck in a place they don’t want to be, and Damon’s fiercely loyal. He feels the need to get back to his family. They’re trying everything. They’re Scooby-Doo-ing that sh– like crazy.”

However, don’t expect Damon and Bonnie’s situation to be devoid of fun. “You never really get to see these two together because they do have a lot of fun together,” he said. “Damon’s a goofy man. He likes to have fun, and Bonnie doesn’t take s–t from anyone anymore. She’s just been hammered for years by all these sort of supernatural elements and she just doesn’t take it anymore. It’s awesome.”

And yes, some Bamon bonding will come as a result of their time together. “They definitely find some bonding time,” he said. “At the end of the day, even if they truly appear to hate one another, I mean, these two individuals have gone through a lot together.”

As for Damon’s drive to get back to Elena, Somerhalder says, “He’ll go through every length to make that happen. It’s a driving force in his life. Damon doesn’t give a sh– about very much except his home, his brother, and his girl.”

Here’s to hoping he gets back to all three before too long.

The Vampire Diaries returns Thursday, Oct. 2 at 8 p.m. on The CW.

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The Vampire Diaries

Ian Somerhalder, Nina Dobrev, and Paul Wesley star in the CW’s romance-infused vampire soap opera.

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