Crystal Hefner Breaks Her Silence After Hugh Hefner's Death

Hugh Hefner's widow Crystal Hefner has broken her silence after her husband was laid to rest.

"I haven't been able to bring myself to write most people back to thank them for their condolences," she tells People. "I am heartbroken. I am still in disbelief."

The Playboy founder died on Wednesday at the age of 91 of natural causes. Crystal, 31, confirmed that Hefner was laid to rest this weekend. "We laid him to rest Saturday," she says. "He is in the place he was always certain he wanted to spend eternity."

Crystal continues, "He was an American hero. A pioneer. A kind and humble soul who opened up his life and home to the world. I felt how much he loved me. I loved him so much. 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."

She adds, "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."

Hefner's funeral was attended by his children – daughter Christie Hefner, 64, David Hefner, 62, Marston Hefner, 27, and Cooper Hefner, 26, as well as a small group of friends, including Playboy staffers. The ceremony took place at the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery.

He was laid to rest directly next to Marilyn Monroe's burial spot.

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"I join the world in mourning," Crystal tells People. "I thank you for all of your condolences. To the people leaving sentiments at the front gate, we see you and grieve with you."