The star was left devastated when her older sibling, Lancelot, Jr., was killed while riding a bike that she had bought him and she admits the traumatising loss was like suffering an amputation.
She tells the New York Daily News, "It (a close family death) takes parts of you away. So when you have to rebuild parts of yourself, you have to figure out how to live without a limb. That's how I feel about losing my brother and having to refigure out life. But life goes on because I'm still breathing. I'm still alive."
Latifah, 42, still struggles with her grief 20 years on, but she managed to channel the pain of her brother's death into her work to help prepare for her latest role in a U.S. TV remake of 1989 film classic Steel Magnolias.
She says, "I try to keep my eyes on the prize and remember that this energy that we have, that we're made of - it transfers, it doesn't end. It just changes, and we just have to keep moving into that next phase of life in whatever form it is."