(Photo by: Nicole Weingart/Bravo via Getty Images)

Vanderpump Rules Stars Ariana Madix and Tom Sandoval Mourn Unexpected Death of Close Friend Ali Rafiq

As if things weren’t already rough enough for Vanderpump Rules stars Tom Sandoval and Ariana Madix! Now they’re dealing with the sudden death of Tom’s longtime friend Ali Rafiq. The St. Louis-based photographer passed away sometime last week, and his funeral took place on Saturday, May 20.

At this time, the cause of Ali’s sudden death remains unknown. “We don’t know how he died,” his sister Rabia said in an Instagram Story on Saturday. “He was already gone [when we found him]. We won’t have any answers from his tests for weeks, so we don’t know.”

Tom and Ali were childhood friends

Both Tom and Ariana took to social media to express their sadness at the loss of their friend. “I keep wanting to text you,” wrote Ariana in an Instagram story. “We were just planning your trip to LA, talking about our futures and all the things we were looking forward to.”

After listing all that she would miss about their friend, the Something About Her owner added, “I miss you @alispacerafiq, and … I’m hoping somehow this makes it to you. I love you always and forever. I’m grateful for the moments we spent together, for the love and friendship you showed me over the last ten years.”

“You are so loved and you are so missed,” Ariana concluded. “I am proud to be able to say I know Ali the Great. Because you ARE and will always be the greatest.”

Likewise, Tom posted a touching tribute to his buddy, alongside a photo of Ali relaxing in a hot tub. “The love I have for you is way beyond words,” he wrote. “I will carry u forever in my heart.”

“Always cherishing the beautiful memories, uncontrollable laughter, and epic experiences we had together,” he added. “You were My best friend, my brother. I’ll catch u on the next sunrise…

5min/5hour 5or500.”

Only a few days ago, Ali had shared a black-and-white selfie of himself and Ariana from the early years of Pump Rules. He captioned the throwback, “Started from the bottom now we here @arianamadix #pumprules #2014.”

The sad news of his close pal’s death comes on the heels of the blowup of Tom and Ariana’s nine-year relationship. When she discovered in early March that he’d been cheating on her for months with close friend Rachel Raquel Leviss, Ariana kicked Tom to the curb – and now she is moving on and moving out of their shared abode.

Meanwhile, as much as I despise Sandoval, I do feel bad for him losing his close friend so suddenly. It’s devastating when someone you love dies without getting to say goodbye. I do offer him and Ariana my sincere condolences on the loss of their friend.