A very respected person in my community passed away a few weeks ago. It was a sad, sudden, and expected death. They were twenty years my senior and worked closely with many of my mentors. Like many of my peers, I respected this person but didn’t know them closely—at least, that’s what everyone thinks. The truth is, I had an intensely hot kinky affair with this person for the last few months of their life. We were seeing each other behind our partners’ backs. It was a mess. Things ended badly. I blame myself in part for their death, because during the last month of their life, I rejected their advances in order to do right by my partner. (I have since told my partner about the affair, and the two of us are working through it.)
Only a couple of my friends know about my involvement with this person. They are also sad, but not to the degree that I am. I feel like I’m dead too. Right now, I want more than anything to grieve with the people who were close to them. I want to hear stories about them and know more about their life. I want to ask their closest friend (who may have known that we were together) what the deceased said of me, if anything. But it seems like there are boundaries I shouldn’t cross here. Out of respect for the deceased—they'd asked me to keep our affair a secret—and also for the deceased’s ex-partner and family, who have no idea. And also for myself! Asking my peers about this person could damage my reputation and even my career.
The deceased’s public memorial service is in a few weeks. I want to attend, but I’m afraid l’ll get inappropriately emotional and people will get suspicious of me. But I don’t know how I’m supposed to cope with this loss by myself. If I don’t let out this grief soon, it’s going to eat me alive. What should I do, Dan? How should The Other Woman cope in a situation like this?
Suffering A Death Covertly, Unbeknownst2 Nearby Teachers
The Other Woman has a couple of weeks to brace herself before the memorial service—which means The Other Woman's got time to call a shrink and schedule one and possibly two appointments before the event.
A good shrink can help you, aka The Other Woman, process the first wave of your grief before the memorial service—you can let it all out in their office—and a really good shrink will help put the affair and your relationship to the deceased in perspective. I'm not trying to minimize your grief, SADCUNT (your abbreviation, not mine!), and neither will your shrink. But the affair was over and this person—being two decades your senior—was, at least according to actuarial tables, pretty much destined to predecease you. So instead of feeling robbed of your lover/mentor's mentor, you should try to focus on feeling grateful for the time you had with them and the intensity of your brief connection.
You say the affair ended badly, which probably means there are things you regret saying and/or hearing, SADCUNT, as well as things you regret not getting to say and/or hear. That's also something you should work through with a shrink in privacy... along with your feelings of guilt. (You didn't hasten their death by turning down their advances to focus on your marriage.)
Talk to a shrink, go to the memorial service, sit at the back, bring a friend (there has to be someone you can confide in), and listen as others share their stories about the deceased, if it's a share-a-story kind of memorial service, but don't stand up share your own story. And if you find yourself get overly/conspicuously emotional, slip out the back and compose yourself. If anyone should ask about your relationship with the deceased, SADCUNT, do the decent thing and lie: "I didn't know them well but their death really hit me hard—I respected their work so much and all of my mentors spoke so highly of them that I feel like I knew them."