"Losing my brother brought our family closer," the actress and mom of two tells Latina magazine for its September 2016 issue

Eva Mendes is opening up for the first time about losing her older brother Carlos to cancer and giving birth to her second daughter — now 3-month-old Amada Lee — with partner Ryan Gosling just 12 days later.

“Losing my brother brought our family closer, and we were already close to begin with. So to just see everybody be there for one another and show up, I feel so lucky to have them,” Mendes, who celebrated her 42nd birthday in March, says in Latina magazine’s September issue.

“And then they were there for me when Amada was born,” she continues. “We had a funeral service for [Carlos] and that same week I had the baby. So it was really, really intense and obviously beyond heartbreaking, but also kind of beautiful.

“Being totally honest, I don’t feel like I’ve really processed that yet,” Mendes adds.

Eva Mendes Latina Magazine September 2016 Main

Diego Uchitel

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Mendes — who first met Gosling, 35, on the set of their film The Place Beyond the Pines — also shares 22-month-old daughter Esmeralda Amada with the actor. And Mendes says there’s a good reason both her daughters bear the name Amada.

“My grandmother’s name is Amada,” she explains. “We had a few names picked out for our new baby, and when she was born, we didn’t feel like those names were her. We came up with a few more, even that morning, and tried them out. We were like, ‘What about Viviana?’

“But we just kept going back to Amada,” she continues, adding jokingly, “In true Latin fashion, we reuse names all the time. I used to know five sisters that were all Maria del Carmen, Maria Elena, Maria Liliana …

“And it was an emotional time with the passing of my brother,” Mendes says. “We thought how beautiful to go with what made us emotional and with what felt like her. When we looked at her, we thought, ‘Aww, Amadita.’ ”

Eva Mendes Latina Magazine September 2016 Main

Diego Uchitel

The Miami-born Circa Beauty Creative Director, who has also released a collection with New York & Company, touches on the importance of exposing her daughters to her Cuban culture while providing a balance of her American upbringing.

“We’re constantly playing Cuban music. I speak to them in Spanish, and my mom speaks [to both girls] in Spanish. Any time I have an opportunity to introduce [them] to my culture, whether it’s through music or through food, I do. That is a main priority, for sure,” she says.

“I have the best of both worlds. I feel completely Cuban and completely American at the same time,” Mendes adds. “I’m so thankful to my mother for coming to the States and risking it all and giving us this opportunity.

“I really connect with both cultures, and that’s rare. That’s a gift that she gave me and all of us.”

As far as how motherhood is going for the star, who will appear in Fast 8 next year, she says her experiences in raising her two young children is a “really, really special time.”

“Right now it’s really about surviving those nights and trying to enjoy this time as much as possible with them, and start the bond between Esmeralda and Amada,” she says.

Mendes, who is currently at home with her daughters, is grateful for the opportunity to do so.

“I think it can be very, very healthy [to take on a work project] if it’s something that feels worthwhile,” she says. “Right now I feel very fortunate to be home with my kids. I feel so lucky, and I’m just taking advantage of that.”

And what would a worthwhile project feel like for Mendes?

“I think like such a mom now — big picture — as far as what I’m putting out there,” she confesses. “Not only for my children, but for other children.”

Jen Juneau