Lester Cohen/WireImage
February 10, 2009 02:00 PM

At Sunday’s Grammy Awards, Christian singer Steven Curtis Chapman made his first red carpet appearance since his 5-year-old daughter Maria Sue was killed in a tragic accident last May, and he told PEOPLE that his family is “beginning to feel some healing taking place.”

The singer, nominated for best pop/contemporary Gospel album, walked the carpet with son Will, 18, who was behind the wheel of the car that accidentally struck and killed Maria last May at their Franklin, Tenn., home.

“I think from both of our perspectives, we’ve kind of in a place where … there’s this hole in our heart and in our soul. That s going to be there until we see Maria again,” he says. “But we’re able to, at least I am, to look at pictures and watch videos of her and it’s not as suffocating as it was. It’s not just where you can’t even breathe. It’s getting to where I can have sweet memories.”

The pain of his daughter’s loss has even helped to strengthen his faith, he says: “There’s a lot I can’t explain, there’s a lot we don’t understand. But I really do believe we’re proving out everything we believe and God’s healing our hearts.”

Despite the tragedy, Chapman says his family has managed happy moments this year as well, including celebrating daughter Emily s marriage in October and planning for eldest son Caleb’s upcoming wedding.

“It’s going to be a small wedding and a big reception,” he says. “They’re really excited.”

Best-man-to-be Will says he’s “still pondering ideas” for his brother s bachelor party, but in the meantime he and his dad made their L.A. trip one to remember with a visit – for Will s birthday – to Mr. Chow and a stop at In-N-Out burger.

With Reporting by MARISA LAUDADIO

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