"It was extremely traumatic," Connick Jr. tells PEOPLE

By Danielle Anderson
September 21, 2016 09:30 AM
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Harry Connick Jr. is opening up about the death of his mother and how profoundly it has affected him throughout his life.

Connick Jr.’s mother, Anita, passed away in 1981, when he was just 13 years old.

“It was extremely traumatic as you can imagine,” Connick Jr. recently told PEOPLE and Entertainment Weekly editorial director Jess Cagle during The Jess Cagle Interview.

“And I think had it not been for my father and his incredible gifts as a father and unwavering support of me and my sister and my extended family’s support, I’m not so sure I could have gotten through it. It was unquestionably the hardest thing that’s ever happened to me before or since. You just take what you’re given and accept it with grace and try to move on with your life.”

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For Connick Jr., 49, the impact of losing his mom has manifested itself in different ways.

“I can tell you that for a long time it was hard for me to enjoy things because I had this underlying feeling that it was going to end,” he says. “I think that’s a direct relationship to my world – [it] was incredible, I had my mother, and then all of a sudden she wasn’t there anymore.”

Though the singer says time has helped to heal the pain and he’s grateful for the time he did have with his mom, he continues to feel the loss.

“I still miss my mother,” he says. “I had 13 years with her – they were profoundly influential years on me and that’s what my life is. Everybody has ups and downs and that was the worst down for me.”

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