It was "all a blur."
"It was surreal," she said on VH1's Behind the Music: Jennifer Hudson, which premiered Monday night. "It was like I was outside of myself."
Darnell and Jason were found shot to death inside their Chicago home on October 24, 2008. After a frantic search, the body of 7-year-old Julian was found in an abandoned SUV. Police later arrested William Balfour, the estranged husband of Hudson's sister, Julia, for the killings.
After receiving the gruesome news, the singer-actress went into seclusion to mourn the loss of her loved ones privately away from the prying eyes of the paparazzi.
"For almost two weeks straight...[I was] inside one room with just family and friends coming in and out...because of course the press was everywhere," said Hudson. "And it was like, 'Where's Jennifer?' I was pretty much secluded from everything that was going on. I didn't watch any TV, I didn't even want to know what was going on because I had more than enough to deal with."
But she relied on her faith to help get her though.
"I prayed when I got up in the morning and prayed before I laid down at night. If I didn't, I'd wake up depressed. The day didn't go right," the Oscar winner recalled.
And going back to work was the last thing on her mind.
"I remember being asked to do a film around that same time and I was like, I have to get adjusted to who I am now. So I can't be another character if I don't know who I am," said an emotional Hudson, doing her best to hold back the tears.
The American Idol alum gathered her strength and eventually returned to the public eye three months later when she sang the "Star-Spangled Banner" at the 2009 Super Bowl followed a week later by a stirring performance of "You Pulled Me Through" at the Grammys, where she had a little help.
"I was definitely thinking of my family when I was singing that song. I could hear my brother in my head, like, 'Jennifer, you need to kill this, you need to get up and do it,'" Hudson recounted. "I knew he would be disappointed if I didn't do it justice."
The hitmaker has since rebounded nicely, getting engaged to WWE star David Otunga and giving birth last August to her first child, a son named David Daniel Otunga Jr., which has helped put the darkness of those terrible days behind her.
"I feel like I've lived about three or four different lives," she said, adding that he reminds her of her nephew and helps her stay connected to mother who "was such a great mom."
"[David] makes me feel like the most special person on earth," she noted. "I want him to get the same love and the same upbringing my mother gave us."
We have no doubt he will.
See other stars who fell victim to tragedy in our Shocking Pop Star Deaths gallery.