Chelsea Handler’s sweet social media tribute to her late brother Chet is a great reminder to embrace life and love generously.
On Wednesday, the 42-year-old comedian shared a photo of her brother, writing: “33 years ago this month my brother Chet died. He was 22, and the oldest of 6 kids. We were never 6 again. Only 5. The number was never the right number again.”
Handler’s brother died in 1984 after falling off a cliff in Jackson Hole, Wyoming during a hike.
“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,“ she wrote on Instagram. “This is the only chance we get. Make it count. Live a little.”
Handle, who grew up in New Jersey, is the youngest of six kids born to Seymour, a used-car salesman, and Rita, a homemaker.
In an interview with People magazine in January 2016, Handler said her family grappled with Chet’s sudden death because “no one had the tools to deal with it.”
“You would walk by my parents’ room and just hear them crying,” she said. “I was only 10, so my brother and sisters were, like, ‘Don’t even worry about her. She doesn’t even know what was going on.’ But of course I knew what was going on. I was so close with my brother.”
“My parents were so lost in their grief, they were unavailable,” Handler said. “That experience was a defining moment in my life.”
As painful as the loss was, Handler said working through her grief helped her step in as the family’s emotional support when they lost their mother to breast cancer in 2006.
“That was much easier for me to deal with than the death of my brother because I knew she was in pain and wanted to go. She did not want to be remembered in that way,” the comedian told People. “I wanted her to be able to depend on me, so I took control of the situation. I told my dad he had to deal with his feelings and I was happy to show up for my mom and my family in that way.”