How Kelly Rizzo's Full House of Support Helped Her After Husband Bob Saget's Death

All Kelly Rizzo wanted after Bob Saget's sudden death was to be with the people who knew her husband best. She talked to E! News about grief, healing and testing her strength on Special Forces.

By Natalie Finn Sep 18, 2023 2:00 PMTags
Watch: Bob Saget's Widow Kelly Rizzo's First TV Interview Since His Death

Kelly Rizzo knows what Bob Saget would have said if could've seen her flying halfway around the world for grueling military training in the middle of winter.

"He would've been making a lot of jokes: 'How on earth are you not staying at the Four Seasons?'" Rizzo mused about her late husband. "Then, he would probably be like [shrug], 'Well, that's what you want to do, I can't stop you.' And then he would be very concerned."

But ultimately, she guessed, Saget would be so, so proud.

"Because I'm proud of myself," the Eat Travel Rock founder told E! News in an exclusive interview ahead of the season two premiere of Fox's Special Forces: World's Toughest Test on Sept. 25. "I pushed myself really hard and, without giving away anything, I can say that I told myself going into this, 'I'm not giving up.'"

Yet whether it's trekking through snow toting 60 pounds of gear, wading into an icy river and rappelling down a vertical drop with the likes of Tom Sandoval, JoJo Siwa and Jack Osbourne or simply putting one foot in front of the other for the past 20 months, giving up has not been an option for Rizzo.

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"It's no secret that today is so much easier than six months ago, and six months before that, and six months before that," the 44-year-old shared, calling it "crazy" that in January it'll be two years since Saget died suddenly in an Orlando, Fla., hotel room, just hours after doing stand-up at a nearby theater. 

"Obviously, I'm a lot better now," Rizzo continued. "I just choose to wake up every day with a sense of massive gratitude for the time I had with him, instead of being, like, 'It's not fair. Why me?' You know, it is what it is."

She and Saget met in 2015—before the impressively filthy comedian reprised the wholesome Danny Tanner portion of his career on the Full House sequel series Fuller Houseand married on Oct. 28, 2018.  

"He had such a big, huge, incredible life that truly touched so many people and changed the world," Rizzo said. "And I got to be a part of that for six years. It's more like, 'Lucky me. How lucky am I, that I got to be with him for the time that I did and when I did.'"

Michael Tullberg/Getty Images

But while she reached such an uplifting level of perspective, Rizzo stressed that it took a long time to see it that way—and she was admittedly lost at first, astounded to all of a sudden be widowed just a few months after celebrating her third wedding anniversary. 

Describing what she had recently told a friend who unexpectedly lost her husband, Rizzo shared, "The first few weeks, the first few months, are very disorienting. You truly are in this weird place. You're like, 'What do I do now? Who am I?'"

And she spoke from experience.

"When people were coming to the house, I remember being like, 'So I don't have a husband anymore? Like, what?'" she recalled.  "I remember just saying that over and over, and people were kind of like, 'Uhhh… what do we say to that?' But there's nothing you can say. And it's just very disorienting, like, 'Who am I now? What do I do? Where—what's this life?"

But time goes by, Rizzo continued, "and then you start to understand and appreciate that a little bit more, like, this is my life now. And then once you're out of the disorienting part of it, you just have to start living your life and going forward with things. The grief is just always going to be a part of it."

It also helped that a small village was at the ready to support her, including the "core crew" she married into.

After getting the horrible news about her husband, her house filled up quickly, Rizzo recalled, with Candace Cameron Bure the first through the door, followed by John Stamos, and then Jodie Sweetin, Jeff Ross and John Mayer (the latter two also volunteered to drive Saget's car back home from Los Angeles International Airport, and try not to tear up watching the video they shared from their journey).

It can be a joke to call a group of actors your "TV family," Rizzo noted, but Saget always insisted the Full House crew was the real deal.

"They've been there for me throughout everything," she said. Lori Loughlin even went with Rizzo to the cemetery on Saget's birthday in May, she added, "and they're all just so kind in that regard."

Rizzo explained, "From day one, I always said, 'I just wanted to be surrounded by Bob people, people who knew and loved Bob.' Of course I'm not talking to all of them every single day now. But I know if I ever need them, they're there."

Then there were the acquaintances she didn't even know all that well who just popped by to wash dishes and take out the garbage. 

"That's something that I would never have thought of before," Rizzo said. "And these people did that for me. Now, looking back, I'll remember it for the rest of my life." (Moral of the story, she explained, is that little gestures can make a huge difference to someone who's suffered a lost, so don't worry about knowing what to say and just reach out or show up. Within reason, of course.)

Twenty months later, Saget is still with her, and Rizzo doesn't imagine that changing anytime soon, nor does she want it to.

MICHAEL TRAN/AFP via Getty Images

"I talk about him all the time," Rizzo said. "With friends, with his friends, with strangers—whenever it comes up. It's not one of those things, like, [mouthing quietly] 'I don't want talk about it.'"

She continued, "He's just this ever-present person in my life that's always going to be there. And I feel that going forward in any regard—whether it's friendship or relationship, or anything going forward—people just are going to need to understand. And [they] do understand, and are so supportive of the fact, that he's just always going to be there."

Saget also continues to be with Rizzo in the presence of his daughters from his first marriage, Aubrey, 36, Lara, 33, and Jennie, 30.

They're "such a big part of my life and I love them so, so much," Rizzo said. "And I can't imagine not having them or having gone through this without them."

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Rizzo also credits the time she spent truly feeling her feelings for the better place she's in today.  

"Some people really repress it," she said. "And when you feel it coming on, they're like, 'Nope, nope, nope, not gonna deal with it, not going to talk about it, not going to cry, not going to experience it.' And what I've learned, and I think the reason I'm doing so well now, and I've been okay, is because I went through it. I didn't try to go around it, I never tried to go over it or under it, I went through it."

In the beginning, "it's every five minutes," Rizzo continued. "Then after a few [days], maybe it's every half hour, and then it's every hour, and then it's once a day—or a few times a day—and then it's a few times a week. Whatever it is, when those waves of grief just hit you, just be like, 'Oh, I feel it coming on, here it comes,' and then just cry, get it out, feel the pain."

Yes, she acknowledged, "It sucks. But whether it's for one minute or 10 minutes or 20, however long that wave is, just let it happen. And then afterwards, you're going to feel better. Like it's almost like a release and a relief that you actually experienced it, and then you feel better going forward versus avoiding it."

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So after surviving the most emotionally challenging period of her life to date, perhaps the logical next step for someone who counts G.I. Jane as one of her favorite movies was to say yes to trading in every creature comfort for a physical ass-kicking.

"I'd been hearing from my close friends, my family, like 'Oh, Kelly, you're so strong,'" Rizzo said, explaining her decision to participate in Special Forces: World's Toughest Challenge, "and I'm like, 'Really? Am I?' I didn't really feel that. But I guess I must be, so let's test the emotional strength, the physical strength, and see how far I could take it."

There are no eliminations on the show, only voluntary or medically expedited exits, so glory goes to the last recruits standing.

Sleeping surrounded by 13 other people, without her eye mask and earplugs —let alone a white noise machine—was one of the more punishing aspects for Rizzo. "You're at the mercy of who's snoring," she noted. But going in, she vowed not to quit under any circumstances, no matter how terrifying a task or uncomfortable the conditions.

She promised herself, "I will go until I'm either injured or my body just physically cannot go any further."

Pete Dadds/ FOX

And however her journey on the show unfolds, it's not a spoiler to know that the real grand finale that occurred off-camera included a hot shower and a cheeseburger. "Showering was amazing," she recalled.

But the extreme physical exertion and outdoor plumbing aside, Rizzo said there was some very "intense" bonding among the recruits, all of whom made the trek to New Zealand in the dead of the Southern Hemisphere's winter for their own very personal reasons. And she found the overall experience fundamentally life-affirming.

"There were things that I was thinking were going to be on my mind a lot when I was there—you know, from the real world," Rizzo recalled. "And when you're there, days would go by [where] I'm like, 'I haven't thought about this at all!' You are so hyper- focused on your life there, because it's so difficult and so intense, yet so wonderful."

And she just knows that a very relieved, proud Bob Saget would have admitted, "Alright, it's kind of cool that you did this."

Read on to see all of the recruits who signed up for season two of Special Forces: World's Toughest Challenge, premiering Sept. 25 on Fox:

Erin Jackson
Kelly Rizzo
Robert Horry
Dez Bryant
Savannah Chrisley
Jojo Siwa
Nick Viall
Tara Reid
Jack Osbourne
Tyler Cameron
Tom Sandoval
Brian Austin Green
Blac Chyna
Bode Miller

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