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Helen Strickland, the widow of country singer Craig Strickland, gave a moving tribute to her husband at a memorial for friends and family Tuesday, saying she was only just beginning the painful "path of grief."
The ceremony at Cross Church in Rogers, Arkansas, came some two weeks after the Backroad Anthem singer was found dead of hypothermia near a lake in northern Oklahoma on Jan. 4.
Craig, 29, and his friend, Chase Morland, 22, both died during a duck hunting trip after the boat they were in capsized.
"As I walk through this exceedingly difficult and painful situation, I know that I am just getting started on my path of grief," Helen said in a prerecorded video during the memorial, which was broadcast online by the church.
She also shared a heartfelt letter she put inside Craig's jacket pocket before his funeral on Tuesday.
In it, she called him the "love of my earthly life."
"I know you are in better hands than mine. The Lord is taking care of you, and loves you more than I could ever imagine," she said. "I can't wait to see you again in heaven."
Following the ceremony, Helen thanked everyone for their support and prayers in an Instagram post. She also shared a quote from their first date, when Craig told her he believed "relationships are the the only thing we can take with us to heaven."
"I will do everything I can to carry on your legacy of establishing relationships and loving people,'' she wrote.
Craig's parents and sister also spoke during the memorial.
"We had such a special relationship, such a bond," his dad Randy said during the ceremony. "He invited you in. He was passionate and loving and caring."
Four days before the memorial, Helen shared a love letter Craig wrote to her for their wedding day, calling it "a precious treasure."
In it, he called himself "the luckiest person in the world" and opened up about the little things he loved about Helen.
"I am so thankful for every moment I had with Craig and I am thankful the Lord is taking care of him now," Helen wrote on Instagram.
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