In a testament to the icy relations between cast members of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, none of Danielle Staub‘s costars have reached out to her to offer condolences on the passing of her mother, Ruth Merrill.
Merrill died on March 21 after having a stroke at the age of 75 in Athens, Penn. Funeral services were held this past Thursday.
“We know how they feel about me,” Staub, who broke down in tears while discussing her mother, tells PEOPLE of her costars. “They weren’t my friends before the show, they weren’t friends with me on the show, and they won’t be friends with me when the show has come and gone. I don’t expect them to reach out to me. I would actually be shocked. I would prefer not to have be fake around me.”
And it’s not as if Staub’s mother was a stranger to the show, which kicks off its new season on May 3. “She’s on the show a little bit, she’s definitely a voice of reason with me,” Staub reveals. “She was a sweet woman, she adopted me, I was her miracle. She was one of the most energetic women. She was a very religious woman, a God-fearing woman.”
For now, Staub’s just trying to get through the initial grieving process. “I’m finding it very difficult, but I don’t want to control it. I’m fine, and then I’m not,” she says of how she’s handling the loss. “It goes in waves. When you lose your mother it’s hard to describe. You don’t know to prepare. You think you do, but you don’t, so I’m feeling a little lost. I want to call her but I can’t. And my daughters are now left without their grandmother.”
Staub says she’s trying to shield her daughters from the pain of grieving. “I allow myself a little bit to fall apart after I drop them off at school,” she says. “No child wants to see their mom sad. I’m trying to help them through the situation. My mom taught me to be there for my kids.”
And Staub isn’t concerned about her castmates’ ire towards her. “I know it’s strange, but I don’t put a lot of stock in how I’m portrayed anymore. I’m on a journey,” she says. “As my mom taught me, you can only do your best. She would tell me all the time, ‘You’re not here to prove yourself to anyone. You’re here to live your life.’ My mom’s always been proud of me.” –David CaplanMike Coppola/Getty