In a sneak peak from Thursday’s Growing Up Hip Hop, Simmons broke down in tears recalling the day she had to explain to her 3-year-old son Sutton Joseph, that his father had died.
While talking to her life coach, Simmons said she asked her son if he wanted to see photos of Tennyson after the toddler began mentioning his dad.
“He comes over and I start showing him videos and pictures and stuff and he stopped, and it’s not like he’s full conversational yet, so this is what kind of makes it emotional. He’s like, ‘Is he alive?’ “
Simmons, 32, said the question stopped her in her tracks.
“But he doesn’t even say the word ‘alive,’ so for him to ask that is like, ‘Woah,’ ” she said. “I was like, ‘No, he’s not.’ This is the first time I’m having to explain it to him. Which is super sad because he’s 3.”
The reality star said she struggled with how to gently explain the situation to her son in a way that he would understand.
“How do you explain to a 3-year-old that their never going to see them again?” she said. “Other than my own way, which is like ‘He’s in heaven, he’s with God,’ all of the great things.”
Breaking down into tears, Simmons said Sutton “laid his head in my chest and told me he was sad.”
“I never see him emotional,” she continued. “He’s a happy kid and that whole day he was just kind of mopey and sad.”
Simmons — who is the daughter of Run D.M.C.’s Rev. Run — said she did her best to reassure Sutton that he is not alone and will always be loved.
“It was super hard to have that conversation with him,” she said.
Tennyson was shot and killed in Atlanta in November 2018. At the time, the Atlanta Police Department tells PEOPLE shots were fired after a conversation with another male escalated. After firing multiple shots, the suspect then “sped from the scene in a car.”
The next day, Simmons posted a series of touching tributes to Tennyson.
“Thank you for leaving behind my greatest gift,” wrote Simmons, 31, on Instagram alongside a series of family snaps.
“I’m hurting. I’m numb. Thank you for the out pouring [sic] of love everyone,” she continued, adding that she couldn’t “believe I’m even saying Rest in Peace Sutton.”
Concluding the message, she made a pledge to always watch over their son.
“I promise to hold SJ down in every way I promise,” she wrote, adding a heart emoji.
Simmons confirmed her split from Tennyson in December 2017.
Growing Up Hip Hop airs Thursdays (9 p.m. ET) on WeTv.