Bethenny Frankel is keeping herself busy with Hurricane Florence relief efforts — amid mourning the death of her on-off boyfriend, Dennis Shields.
“The work I am doing for hurricane relief is a good outlet, but I’m trying to not get too immersed and not avoid the grieving process and feeling,” the Real Housewives of New York City star, 47, tells PEOPLE. “I am going through an emotional storm and must go through and not around it.”
“People are suffering way more than I am,” she adds. “People have helped me get through my despair with their love and inspiration and now it is my turn.”
Shields was found dead in his Trump Tower apartment on August 10, after ingesting an unknown number of prescription oxycodone pills, according to police. Shields, evidently concerned about a possible overdose, asked his housekeeper to administer Narcan, which is used to block dangerous opiod levels. The housekeeper did so and called 911, but it was too late.
The Real Housewives of New York star claims her deceased ex inspires her philanthropic efforts in times of natural disasters.
“He embraced and applauded everything I did and cheered me on from the sidelines,” she says.
The rain finally stopped in North Carolina but dangerously high water persists. Residents who were evacuated from the hardest-hit areas to stay away because of closed roads and catastrophic flooding that submerged entire communities.
“We are deciding where to land the plane and it changes minute by minute,” she says. “The storm moves, the damage is everywhere, and we are determining where the most dire need is. My team is on the ground and the location changes daily.”
Bethenny Frankel says her celebrity friends — Sia, Christina Aguilera, Kelly Ripa, Katie Couric, Lea Michele, Lisa Rinna, Erika Girardi, Maria Menounos, Kyle Richards and Erin Andrews — have all used their platforms to help her hurricane relief efforts. According to Frankel, they raised about $125,000 as Frankel chartered a plane to bring supplies to those in need.
Even Frankel’s 8-year-old daughter Bryn, raised relief money with her classmates — and will join her mother on the ground in North Carolina.