How do I deal with the death of my secret lover?

Design your own ceremony and include two friends who know you. My loyalty to him and our relationship forbids me from betraying this secret. His family has been the recipient of his best love and now public love, condolences etc. This is understandable. But I can't even ask for a compassionate leave from work.

Why I chose such an unlikely situation, I will leave behind the long-term analysis I followed, but I am writing to you in the hope of getting some pointers on how to deal with the current moment. I feel as if I am null and void.

Philippa's answer Who are we without human mirrors to reflect back our own experiences of ourselves? I hope some of you are only witnessed by your late lover. You used the words "null and void" - I think we humans can feel like we don't exist if we live without witnesses. You do exist, you truly do count, and I and anyone you choose to tell will know how difficult and dire your current situation is.

All humans have formalized rites and ceremonies to mark someone's death for some reason. They compose and give meaning to the impossibility of managing overwhelming, unbearable grief. Death ceremonies formalize grief. By going through this quietly, your grief may feel more out of control than if you were mourning publicly at his funeral.

Dilemma I am a professional, single, middle aged woman and I have been in a relationship with a married man for 12 years. He just died suddenly. He and I love each other. His feelings for me were separate and secondary to his commitment to his family. I've never been misled by him on that front. Therefore, I entered this relationship with my eyes wide open. But I know from my previous relationship experience that what we had was worth keeping in whatever form it could hold. We were each other's ideal match, intellectually, sexually and emotionally compatible, and enjoying each other's company immensely.

A small part of me wants to openly declare that I am more than just a fringe friend. I have two friends who know, but no friends in common with him who do. After the recent loss of my parents, I know another way of grieving – the grief that empathizes with, and the solace that empathy provides. I felt abandoned and lost the secret of my loss, the unspoken sadness. This is a very silent loss of one of the most important relationships in my life.

You have two friends who know you have this lover. You need to enlist their support. You need to design your own funeral ceremony for your deceased loved one. I don't know what this will be. Maybe you have a piece of her clothes or something else she left you. Carry it around, talk to it as if it were him, and, after a few moments, release it ceremoniously. Whether it goes up in smoke, or you send it overboard, or you bury it, is up to you.

You need something that represents the him you let go of. You will need two of your friends to be with you to watch you when you do it. Think of the words you would use if you were having such a ceremony. It's not a public funeral, but it is a ritual and may give you structure about how you're feeling. Having a private altar in his memory might also help. You, along with your friends who don't know it, I think, should do this, or its equivalent.

You may seem to frame your loss in relation to other people grieving publicly, but much of the isolation and loneliness you feel stems from the loss of this great love, the loss of the primary witness of your life. You will miss yourself when you are with him. Your grief is unrelated to family and should not be compared to it - your love for your deceased partner is as separate from their love as it is in life.

You enter into the relationship with your eyes open knowing that it will always be a secret, but you may not be ready for how this will affect you if he dies before you, so it's understandable that you're feeling torn right now about how to get married. to overcome. If I were you, I'd also tell my doctor about getting time off from work – doctor secrecy should mean that the reason for your sick note isn't disclosed.

You are grieving and you have the right to grieve this loss. You know how to love and you may love again, but you will always experience this loss. In time, more of you will grow around it, you'll get more used to it, but right now, it feels unmanageable, and raw, and I'm sorry for what you're going through.

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