Nick Cannon Says Telling His Kids About 5-Month-Old Son Zen's Death Was 'Intense'

"Them being there for me probably helped me keep it together and really deal with it," Cannon says of the love and support he's received from his six other children — specifically twins Moroccan and Monroe

Nick Cannon is leaning on his children as he mourns the death of his 5-month-old son, Zen.

In this week's issue of PEOPLE, the TV host opens up about the sudden death of his son — who recently died of a brain tumor — and how his six other children have helped him throughout his grieving process.

In August, Cannon's son, whom he shares with Alyssa Scott, was diagnosed with high-grade glioma, a rare and aggressive form of brain cancer.

Cannon — who is also dad to 5-month-old twins Zion Mixolydian and Zillion Heir, whom he shares with Abby De La Rosa; 11-month-old daughter Powerful Queen and son Golden, 4, whom he shares with Brittany Bell; and twins Moroccan and Monroe, 10, whom he shares with ex-wife Mariah Carey — says having to explain the situation to his children (specifically his older twins and Golden) was difficult.

Watch the full episode of People Cover Story: Nick Cannon on or on the PeopleTV app.

NIck Cannon rollout

"Having to explain that to 10-year-olds (Moroccan and Monroe) and a 4-year-old (Golden) is pretty intense," he says. "But their understanding and them being there for me probably helped me keep it together as well as really deal with it. Specifically, even, Roc and Roe. They were there for the entire journey."

On Dec. 5, Zen took his last breath — with his mom and dad by his side.

"I see it as a blessing that I got to be there," says Cannon. "Alyssa says, 'I think he was just waiting for you.' "

Cannon first revealed the tragic news on his daytime talk show Nick Cannon on Dec. 7.

NIck Cannon rollout
Ryan Pfluger/August

"We had a short time with a true angel," says Cannon. "My heart is shattered. I wish I could have done more, spent more time with him, taken more pictures. I wish I could have hugged him longer."

Cannon says his daughter, Roe, has been one of his biggest supporters through it all.

"My daughter, really, she's so in tune and in line and wise beyond her years," he says. "I got a lot of therapists, but she's probably my best therapist."

"She keeps me in check," he adds. "She's so pure and so honest. To be 10, she asks some really strong and powerful questions. Really, just it's all out of love. She's my oldest child. Even though they're twins, she came out first and she lets everybody know it. She's helped me keep it strong."

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Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards, Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA - 24 Mar 2018

Cannon, who is fully aware of the public's questions about his "nonconventional" family and "unorthodox" lifestyle, says his number one priority will always be his children.

"I'm a father, first and foremost," he says."There's a lot of guilt that I feel and I talk about this in therapy all the time. It's rooted in not having enough time to spend with my loved ones, specifically my children, because I have a lot of children. I'm also spread so thin in my work because that's how I cope. That's how I deal with things. I have several jobs and several shows and movies and music, all that stuff. And I call myself a provider for many, but one thing no matter how much money I generate, one thing I can't generate is time."

"It's not about quantity, it's about quality," he adds. "And it's really just having quality moments with my children, quality moments with my family. Had a lot of quality moments with Zen in his short time here. I always say time is a manmade thing, but love and energy is a godsend."

Taking in these sweet moments, Cannon shares that he was recently able to have all seven of his children in one place, at one time — for the first time.

NIck Cannon rollout

"In September, my grandmother had her 80th birthday in San Diego. That was the first time I got to have all my kids in the same place at one time. We rented out this whole space for my entire family to be there. Obviously I have a huge family. It was probably just one of those times that I'll never ever forget. It was so much love. That was probably one of the happiest moments even just my life, to be honest."

As grief sets in, Cannon and Scott are focusing on the good that came from their short time with Zen.

"He was the most loving baby," says Cannon. "I look at being his father as a great privilege."

Adds Scott via a written statement to PEOPLE: "It was a privilege being Zen's mommy. It's so beautiful and encouraging to see even complete strangers being touched and moved by Zen's light. Zen's spirit and light will shine bright forever."

For more from Nick Cannon, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday, or subscribe here.

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