Family, friends and fans began saying their goodbyes to Craig Strickland Tuesday evening in an emotional service held near Rogers, Ark.
Streamed live on Cross Church's website, the funeral began with a video montage that featured childhood photos of Craig who played baseball and basketball as a young kid. Later on, hundreds of guests heard moving speeches from several speakers who spoke fondly of the Backroad Anthem member.
"This is a celebration of his life. It's not going to be all tears," a church leader shared at the beginning. "We're going to have a lot of laughter...He will not be forgotten." Guests entering the church were asked to share their favorite memory of Craig as songs from Hillsong United played in the background.
Helen Strickland, who was in attendance for Tuesday's gathering, admitted before the service that today was going to be a very difficult day. "Dear friends, please pray that I may have strength tomorrow as I walk through the most difficult experience I've ever gone through in my life," she shared on Instagram Monday evening. "I love you all as Craig did."
Helen did not speak on stage during the 75-minute funeral. She was, however, able to appear alongside Craig's parents, sister and dog in taped video that aired during the service.
In another heartfelt post shared just hours before the funeral began, Helen payed tribute to her late husband with a personal letter on Instagram.
"Today I buried my husband. This is a picture of the letter I put in his jacket pocket. I love him with every part of my heart, but I love our God more...and I know my God loves Craig and I more than we could ever imagine," she wrote on social media. "Therefore, God has a purpose. He makes everything beautiful in its time. Craig established relationships with each of us so that he could see us again. So let us love one another like Craig did. Let us pray for strangers. And let us establish relationships with one another with the goal of establishing Christ-like relationships so that we can see each other again in heaven."
Helen also shared a picture of the note she planted in her husband's jacket. It partly read, "You were my person and are the love of my earthy life. Thank you for sharing the last few years you had with me."
Craig was declared missing Dec. 28 after the singer embarked on a duck hunting trip with his friend Chase Morland. After Chase was found dead, a search was launched to find the 29-year-old singer.
Sadly, Oklahoma Highway Patrol confirmed to E! News one week later that Craig's body was recovered and the family had been notified.
"Craig Michael, look at what amazing things God intended for your life. I am so proud of you and the impact you have had on this world," Helen shared on Instagram to her followers. "I love you all, thank you for loving my husband. #craigstrickland."
She added on Twitter, "Thank you sweet friends for sharing in Craig's memorial with us. We truly value your love and friendship." Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to Craig and Chase's family during this difficult time.