It never gets easier. Chelsea Handler’s eldest brother, Chet, tragically died in 1984 after he fell off a cliff during a hiking trip. The comedienne was just 9 years old at the time of the accident, but she recalls the pain like it was yesterday.
“You just feel broken,” the former Chelsea Lately host, 44, told USA Today in an interview published on Tuesday, April 9. “[Chet was] kind of my protector, kind of a father figure, a big brother, a crush, your first boyfriend.”
Handler also said she dealt with her brother’s passing by pretending like it did not happen. “If anybody talked about Chet or mentioned him, I’d just leave the room,” she remembered. “I’d get on my bike, and I’d ride my bike for hours around the neighborhood. I could cry on my bike, but I wouldn’t let anyone see me cry in person.”
The New Jersey native recently decided to work through the trauma and enlisted the help of psychiatrist Dr. Dan Siegel. She learned that she doesn’t “trust men” to this day because her eldest brother “told [her] he’d come back … and he never came back.”
After coming to terms with the accident with the help of therapy, the In the Motherhood actress decided to put the tools she learned into her new memoir, Life Will Be the Death of Me: … and you too! Handler noted, “I didn’t want to write a book until I had something really to say, because I felt like I had been getting away with murder with my career for so long that it was time to pony up and actually do something of import [sic].”
In July 2017, the funny woman remembered her late sibling in an emotional tribute on Instagram. “33 years ago this month my brother Chet died. He was 22, and the oldest of 6 kids,” she captioned a series of throwback pics. “We were never 6 again. Only 5. The number was never the right number again.”
She continued, “But, because of that day, I learned how to live and love and laugh and to: Show up Stand up Love up Argue Fight Make up Show up again. Go to bat for people. Tell them you love them. Defend your friends. Stand up for yourself. Give away the things you have in excess. Give away the things you love the most. This is the only chance we get. Make it count. Live a little.”
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