Soap star Hunter Tylo still recalls the moment she was told that her 19-year-old son had accidentally drowned after having an epileptic seizure.
"I can't even tell you the feeling," Tylo told PEOPLE at The American Epilepsy Outreach Foundation's First Annual Wings of Hope Benefit on June 13 in Chicago. "In your deepest gut you want to believe this is a dream."
The actress's son, Michael Edward Tylo II, was remembered at the event with the "Mickey Tylo Butterfly Award" to celebrate those helping to change the face of epilepsy.
Tylo, a national spokesperson for the epilepsy foundation, now hopes to contribute to raising awareness of seizure disorders in her new role with the organization.
Tylo's son died on Oct. 18
after drowning at the family home in Henderson, Nev. Her eldest son told her about his death.
"He called and I could hear it in my son's voice – I knew it had to do with Mickey," Tylo said. "I was like, 'Ok, I have to brace myself.' He said, 'Mom, I have to tell you probably the worst thing I'll ever have to tell you in my life. Mom, he's gone. He's gone.'"
To those who have lost loved ones, Tylo said, "you're not going to forget them."
"But, as all of the loss pain dissipates, you start to see, like I have, the purpose of that person's life," she said. "That's the feeling you have to cling on to."