Q: How do I cope with death with a down-low friend relationship?

A: First, I want to offer sincere condolences for your loss. You have layers of challenges to unpack and process. It is very important for you to have emotional support at this time. While the grief process is unique to the individual and not linear, the fact that you were not able to be public with your relationship makes it more complex and challenging. 

In the mental health field, we know that loneliness and social isolation can and will exacerbate any mental health issue being faced. Social support and having a sense of community can significantly improve emotional well-being.

Self-care and self-compassion are also important at this time. The loss of someone with whom you had a secret relationship can sometimes lead to a sense of shame. I want to encourage you to seek a safe space with a therapist as well as social support where you feel safe to share. 

I hope this was helpful,

Valerie Proctor, LICSW