Whitmore replaced her as host of the ITV2 dating show the previous December after Flack stood down following an assault charge.
She told Women’s Health Going for Goal podcast: “I think at the time I didn’t deal with it because I probably wasn’t in a position where I could, because I was still doing this show (Love Island) and I really didn’t know…I’ve never lost someone in my group of friends who is so young.
“It’s hard, I’d get tagged in something by a fan account of Caroline and I’ll think it’s Caroline and it’s only now it’s hit me that’s not her.”
She added: “I feel it’s okay to grieve privately if you choose to…I found it really difficult because it (Caroline’s death) was so public, that’s why lockdown was really great if I’m honest because I had that privacy and I had that time.”
Whitmore has said she has learned the importance of standing up to trolls on social media and added: “I feel stronger by talking, by communicating, and realising that we’re all vulnerable.
“Sometimes you think when you’re in this industry – ‘oh you need to get a thick skin’ – which I probably have built up a little bit. But it’s okay to feel sad and it’s okay for something to knock you, and it’s okay to speak up and say ‘actually I’ve had enough’.”
Whitmore said she has also dealt with the loss of a family member recently, adding: “It’s been a difficult year for so many people, and a lot of people have lost people before their time.
“My cousin passed away of coronavirus during lockdown, he was only in his forties, in Ireland.”
The full Laura Whitmore interview is on the Women’s Health Going for Goal podcast, available now.
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