It’s been just days since Hugh Hefner’s tragic death and his widow, 31-year-old Crystal Hefner, has broken her silence about her heartbreaking loss for the first time. Clearly, the Hefner family is dealing with a great deal of grief. And when speaking with People magazine, the new widow didn’t hold back when talking about her late husband. Watch the video below to see what Crystal had to say about the devastating death.

Besides expressing her sadness, Crystal also expressed her admiration for the late icon. “He was an American hero. A pioneer,” she told the mag. “A kind and humble soul who opened up his life and home to the world.”

Crystal also made it clear that, even through the loss, the love they share is still very much alive. “I felt how much he loved me. I loved him so much,” she said. “I am so grateful. He gave me life. He gave me direction. He taught me kindness. I will feel eternally grateful to have been by his side, holding his hand, and telling him how much I love him. He changed my life, he saved my life. He made me feel loved every single day. He was a beacon to the world, a force unlike anything else. There never has and never will be another Hugh M. Hefner.”

Shortly following their 2011 engagement, Hugh opened up to People about the special bond he shared with Crystal. “Despite the age disparity, the truth of the matter is we have a great deal in common,” Hugh said at the time.  “We really complement one another, we have a wonderful time together, and I love her.”

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