The singer and actor paid tribute to his late mother Wednesday: "My mother loved performing"

By Lanford Beard
Updated March 19, 2015 11:25 AM
Credit: Jordan Strauss/Invision for Alzheimer's Association/AP

Nearly four months after his mother passed away, Joey McIntyre admits he’s still in the process of grieving.

The McCarthys star and New Kids on the Block singer paid tribute to his late mother, Katherine Bowen McIntyre, at Wednesday’s 23rd Annual “A Night at Sardi’s” to Benefit the Alzheimer’s Association.

From the red carpet of the Beverly Hilton Hotel, McIntyre tells PEOPLE that “Mourning is a process, and I have to take my time with it.”

After he posted a touching tribute to his mother on Instagram on Dec. 1 – one day after she died – McIntyre, 42, said that the next few weeks were trying.

“The holidays were rough for me,” he reveals. “They were really rough. You think you’re okay. Even if your heart’s in the right place, you still have your body. And your body knows. Your body kind of has to mourn physically as well, and that can come out in different ways.

“I had good friends and families and could work that out and get through that. But it wasn’t easy.”

But Wednesday’s benefit gave McIntyre a way to continue working through his emotions, both charitably and personally: “My mother loved performing,” he says. “The way her face lit up on stage. She loved it. She just had this s—eating grin. I definitely inherited it.”

McIntyre adds, “She would have loved this night.”

Reporting by MATT WEISS