Bethenny Frankel is reportedly "devastated" after the death of her on-again, off-again boyfriend Dennis Shields, who died Friday from a suspected overdorse.
"She is devastated," one of Frankel's friends told PEOPLE Monday. "She loved him. He was her family and [her 8-year-old daughter] Bryn's family. Bryn loved him. Dennis was Bethenny's partner, her family, her business partner and her best friend."
The friend continued, "He helped her with things — emotionally and professionally, and he was her confidante... No question that she did love this guy."
Frankel attended Shields' funeral on Long Island early Monday and finally broke her silence about the 51-year-old's death on Instagram. She shared a photo of Shields laying on a bed with her dog, Cookie, who died in October 2017.
"Rest In Peace my sweet babies who gave me endless unconditional love. #nowandforever," she wrote.
Frankel and Shields knew each other for almost three decades, since his estranged wife, Jill Shields, was a high school friend of Frankel's. The two began dating in 2016, just as Frankel was finalizing her divorce from second husband, Jason Hoppy. In a podcast interview recorded just days before his death, Shields said the two were still together "about four weeks ago."
"I've known Bethenny a very, very long time. I met her when we were both still in college, and my ex-wife [Jill Shields] and her were friends in high school. We remained friends the whole time that I was married — nothing but friends," Shields told the Listen Up Show with Mitchell Chadrow. "And then right after Jill and I got separated, Bethenny and I started dating and we've been together on and off now for I think it was almost four years. That's what she told me … but we do break up a lot."
Another source told PEOPLE that the Real Housewives of New York star, 47, and Shields had an "unusual relationship."
"They were on and off. It was unconventional and not always exclusive. They would be together and then not. Sometimes these traditional relationships aren't the best thing for everybody," the source said. "Dennis was a steadying rock for Bethenny. He was very mild-mannered and she is like a force of nature but she needed that in him."
Shields was found dead in his Trump Tower apartment after an apparent overdose. He reportedly asked an assistant to administer Narcan, an emergency drug used to reverse narcotic overdoses. Although the drug was reportedly administered, it failed to revive him and he fell unconscious. He died moments later.
"We are all heartbroken," Jill Shields said in a statement Friday. "Dennis was, and will always be, the love of my life. His spirit lives on in our children. Please respect our family's privacy at this time."0comments
Shields was the chairman and founder of Esquire Bank, and founded the crowd funding company Yield Street.
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