how to be the girlfriend after a woman who was truly loved then suddenly died – by Nirel JonesMitchell

1. know you’re not crazy, over-exaggerating, or being unsupportive by feeling jealous, feeling insecure, wanting to know your partner can love you, wanting to know your partner wants to be w/ you and isn’t just wishing you were them

2. give your significant other space. they can’t process their grief w/ you being up their ass all the time

3. talk to your therapist. delve into why you’re comparing yourself to their past relationships or just believe me when I tell you what my therapist told me: comparison is an attempt to figure out who you are and where you fit. it doesn’t mean you’re evil or immature, it means you’re feeling vulnerable (rightly so because you are falling in love with someone who is in love w/ someone else and they can’t love you yet)

4. wake up every day for 10 weeks and put on a meditation about sitting w/ vulnerability so that when you do start comparing yourself, because you will again and again, you can say in your head “I just feel vulnerable” and sit with it

5. tell your partner everything you’re going through. hopefully, they’ll say something like, “I recognize that you’re in a vulnerable position but the only reason you need to feel afraid of being vulnerable in a relationship is if your partner is the type of person to take advantage of that vulnerability, and I won’t.” that’s what mine said, anyway

6. don’t be afraid to talk to them about their past girlfriend: to ask about their funeral, their favorite music, what they might have thought about you, what they might have thought about present societal happenings, if they ever got Asian glow, if they ever talked about moving to Seattle. people like talking about the people that they loved

7. when you have to process your emotions about the situation, talk to the kind of friends that will tell you when you’re making your partner’s grief about you and tell you to stop

8. listen to the experiences of people who are grieving. Elle Stanger’s (@stripperwriter on ig) highlights on suicide have been extremely helpful for me. Young Hot Widow’s Club, a book by Nora McInerny, was also great for me personally. support people who are grieving, monetarily and/or with time. they could be strangers on the internet or organizations that support grievers. it’ll make you feel better

9. listen to the experiences of people who are going through what you’re going through. I know that there aren’t a ton of resources out there. the Esther Perel “Will He Make The Space For Me?” episode on her podcast Where Should We Begin might help

10. know your limit. pick an amount of time that you feel like you can be in a relationship with someone who hasn’t processed their grief enough to express love the way you wanna receive it. when it gets to that date, talk to your partner about how you are feeling. reassess if you want to stay or go. trust yourself to know when it becomes too much

11. allow yourself to fall in love. keep your heart open. don’t let their trauma stop you from being yourself, from appreciating the relationship with your partner, from being present. you chose the person that you’re with for a reason. be as empathetic as possible to them, the situation, and yourself. know this: you’re gonna mess up in being supportive. the relationship might not turn out the way that you want, but you’re a good person and a good girlfriend

12. if you’re the kind of person who believes you can communicate with the dead or spirits, talk to her; hear her complicated emotions. if you’re the type of person who likes crying about how you’ll never be her, do it—until you start disassociating; at that point, you might wanna refer to number 3. if you’re the type of person who likes flipping off her picture every now and then, when nobody’s looking, do it. best of luck


Nirel JonesMitchell is a writer, researcher, and artist who studies freedom. She is currently attending graduate school at the University of California, Los Angeles getting a dual degree: MSW/PhD in Social Welfare. She is passionate about getting survivors of abuse resources to heal and fight against abuse in society. When she is not reading, she is dancing to live music, making (and selling) collage art, or laughing with friends somewhere.