The Dolphin Tale star's father raised Harry and his sister Suzanna as a single parent after his wife, Anita, lost her battle with ovarian cancer in 1981, and the entertainer, who was 13 at the time, admits her death was tough on the whole family, but they managed to pull through.

"It was extremely traumatic as you can imagine," Connick, Jr. tells People and Entertainment Weekly editorial director Jess Cagle, "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."

The 49-year-old father-of-three admits he struggled for years to truly enjoy the fruits of his success as a result of his traumatic childhood loss: "I had this underlying feeling that it was going to end," he explains. "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."

Time has helped Harry to heal, but he doubts he will ever fully get over her passing.

"I still miss my mother," Connick, Jr. laments. "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."