The legendary singer, whose husband, acclaimed music producer Rene Angelil, died in January, was honored with the Icon Award at the 2016 Billboard Music Awards on Sunday, where she teared up after being surprised by her 15-year-old son Rene-Charles Angelil, who presented her with the award.
Backstage, Dion opened up to ET's Cameron Mathison about the emotional moment, and how finding strength in difficult times does not mean who have to conceal your feelings with those you love.
"You have to be strong, but I think it's important as well to not hold everything," she shared, admitting, "I tried to hold it in front of my 5-year-old twins, but my 15-and-a-half year old beautiful son is old enough to understand.
"Even though I did not want to cry, he understands it's okay because it is therapeutic and you can't take so much pressure," she continued. "You can take so much strength and weight on your shoulders, but sometimes you can't control everything."
This year, the music world also lost a legendary performer in Prince, and at one point, Dion stopped giving interviews to turn around and watch Madonna's heartfelt tribute to the late rock legend featuring Stevie Wonder.
For Dion’s own performance, the 48-year-old songstress gave a heart-wrenching performance of Queen's "The Show Must Go On," which she told ET was her late husband's "favorite song."
"To try to perform that song without collapsing was big enough," she explained, "and then I turned around and I saw my son. As a mother, I really, through this whole process of our new life, wanted to be strong."
"I thought I was going to make it through the whole night without tears and show strength, and love won," she said. "I just collapsed. I'm very thankful for the award and proud of my family so much."
For Dion, the performance marked a “new chapter” in her life as both a mother and performer.
“I'm not the first woman and I'm not the last one who will lose her husband,” the singer shared. “It's hard, but my family is helping me through it. I hope I think people know that I don’t do music, I don't do my passion and sing to win an award. It's never been the number one goal. It’s to share moments with fans and the celebration of music itself.”