updated 04/02/2009 AT 11:00 AM ET
•originally published 04/02/2009 AT 12:20 PM ET
Four months after her mother, brother and nephew were viciously murdered, Jennifer Hudson is getting back to business, hitting the road with Robin Thicke. But of course she’s still coping with the pain of her family tragedy.
“It was so, so horrible what happened, and she’s still hurting,” says Hudson’s childhood friend and longtime assistant Walter Williams III in this week’s Entertainment Weekly cover story. “But she’s a strong girl and she knows her family is in a better place. I really think she’s going to be okay.”
As for fans who want to help, Hudson, 27, tells the magazine they needn’t feel responsible for her. “The other day this lady came up to me and got really close to me,” she recalls, “and I thought, ‘What is it that makes people want to … embrace me?’ I don’t like it when people get all emotional. I don’t want you to cry.”
But she does want you to smile. “To see that love from fans,” she says, is “one of the most beautiful things.”
The Oscar- and Grammy-winner is still not speaking publicly about the murders. “She’s okay as long as people don’t bring it up,” says Williams, who adds that Hudson’s faith is getting her through such a difficult time. When she performed “You Pulled Me Through” at the Grammys, “She was singing to God,” he says. “God pulled her through.”
Music also helps, Hudson says: “This is what I love to do, and I hate to sit still. I have been active for the past four or five years, and to be working like that and then to just stop and all you hear is the clock ticking … That will drive you crazy.”