Credit: Rick Diamond/Getty Photo: Real Housewives of Atlanta's Kandi Burruss

Real Housewives of Atlanta star Kandi Burruss has endured a tumultuous few years: Following the tragic death of her ex-fiance, A.J. Jewell, in 2009, Kandi has forged a triumphant return to form with a string of successful projects.

After shocking reports of Russell Armstrong’s suicide surfaced, Kandi had some warm words of wisdom to offer Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Taylor Armstrong when Wetpaint Entertainment chatted with the R&B songbird exclusively at a recent event.

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“It really hurt my heart,” Kandi said of Russell’s passing. “Obviously, I know what it feels like to go through something so traumatic in the public eye. It’s already hard to lose someone so close to you, but then to deal with it in front of the world — that just makes it so much worse."

"People say they wanna be there for you, and then when it’s not in the news anymore, nobody’s saying anything — but you’re still dealing with it. So my heart goes out to her, and I hope she really stays strong.”

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How did Kandi walk through her grief while maintaining her public image? “You’re gonna go through days when you’re gonna cry, and you’re gonna go through days when you wanna laugh and talk with your friends,” she explained.

“But then you’re gonna feel bad about it, because you know everyone’s expecting you to be grieving all the time. The only thing I can say is — grieve in your own way. Don’t worry about what other people have to say.”

And, of course, family comes first. “Be strong for your daughter,” she said. “Even on the days when you don’t wanna pick yourself up, you’ve gotta pick yourself up.”

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Kandi speaks from experience here, since the years since A.J.’s passing have been some of the most successful of her career: She released her critically acclaimed studio album Kandi Koated, hosted her riotous web series Kandi Koated Nights, taped several seasons of Real Housewives, and — most importantly — has been an incredible mother to her daughter, Riley.

Now, she’s launching a provocative new business venture: Bedroom Kandi, a line of “intimate luxury products” in collaboration with sex toy line Oh My Bod.

“I was like, ‘Well, I have my own talk show about sex and relationships, so I better get my own toy line!’” Kandi laughed.

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And we can expect to see some exciting new career developments for Kandi in the coming months. “I’ve been back in the studio writing for other people — I can’t tell you who, but you’ll see! — people who have actually had careers before,” she enthused.

As for the status of Kim Zolciak’s long-delayed single, “The Ring Didn’t Mean a Thing,” Kandi says the release is still to be determined. “We didn’t really come to any agreement on it,” Kandi explained.

“I’d rather just keep the friendship and not worry about it.”

Wise words!