Prior to her death, actress Anne Heche has written a new memoir, which was released this week. On Tuesday, a reading of the book was held at the Grove area Barnes & Noble in L.A., where Heche's ex James Tupper spoke out at about the late star. "I want to say that I'm doing great, but it's been a very, very difficult time," Tupper told PEOPLE while in attendance at the memoir reading.
"A very big transition and spending time with my boy and looking after him, that's basically been my whole focus," he continued. Tupper then added, "It's very difficult whenever you lose a parent like that. Your whole world switches inside out, and I think kids experience trauma in a way that adults don't. Adults have a context to put it in, but kids do not. You want to bury it, you want to forget about it and move past it. I happened to have lost my mom, too, when I was very, very young. So I kind of understand what he's going through."
Tupper is the father of Heche's youngest son, Atlas, who is 13 years old and joined his father for the memorial event. "Atlas has taken up tennis so he plays like two to three hours a day, and I think that's creating a real nice balance." Tupper said of how Atlas is handling life in the wake of his mother's death. He added that the teen "has really good friends. So keeping these things carefully in balance, that's how we're getting through grief."
Heche, who appeared in NBC's Chicago P.D. as well as the '90s soap opera Another World, died on Aug. 11 at the age of 53. She was involved in a series of car crash incidents on Friday, Aug. 5, the second of which caused a burst of flames that left Heche severely burned. She was admitted to the hospital in critical condition, and sadly never recovered from her injuries.
At the time, a representative for the star announced the tragic loss on behalf of Heche's family and friends. "Today we lost a bright light, a kind and most joyful soul, a loving mother, and a loyal friend," the representative stated. "Anne will be deeply missed but she lives on through her beautiful sons, her iconic body of work, and her passionate advocacy."
"Her bravery for always standing in her truth, spreading her message of love and acceptance, will continue to have a lasting impact," the statement added. The family's rep also confirmed to PEOPLE that, while Heche was legally dead according to California law, her heart was still beating and she had not been taken off life support in order to allow OneLegacy Foundation enough time to find recipients who will be a match. On Aug. 14 it was announced that organ donor recipients had been identified.