10/03/2017 10:38 EDT | Updated 10/03/2017 16:55 EDT

Hugh Hefner’s Wife, Crystal Harris, Addresses His Death For The First Time

“He was an American hero.”

Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Playboy
Hugh Hefner and Crystal Hefner attend Playboy Mansion's Annual Halloween Bash in 2014.

Hugh Hefner's wife, Crystal Harris, has opened up about her husband's death for the first time, five days after the Playboy founder passed away at age 91.

In an interview with People magazine on Monday, the 31-year-old said, "I haven't been able to bring myself to write most people back to thank them for their condolences. I am heartbroken. I am still in disbelief."

The former Playmate went on to call her late husband an "American hero" and "pioneer." And while the couple had a 60-year age gap, Harris opened up about how much she loved her husband of five years.

"I loved him so much. I am so grateful. He gave me life. He gave me direction. He taught me kindness," she told the mag. "I will feel eternally grateful to have been by his side, holding his hand, and telling him how much I love him. 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."

Harris met Hefner when she was just 22 years old. The couple began dating in 2009 and tied the knot three years later.

Although this was Hefner's third marriage (he was previously married to Millie Williams and model Kimberley Conrad), he was always vocal that their love was real.

Hefner was laid to rest in a small, private ceremony in Los Angeles on Saturday, with only close friends and family in attendance, TMZ reports. Hefner's final resting place will be next to Marilyn Monroe, Playboy's first cover model who he never actually met in real life, in a plot he purchased back in 1992.

"She is without question the definitive sex icon of our time," Hefner told CBS in 2012. "There's something unique when an iconic legendary figure is more famous 50 years after her death than at the height of her career."

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But there's more than one reason Hefner wanted to be buried in the same place as the famous sex symbol. The Playboy editor also has plenty of famous friends who were laid to rest in the same cemetery, including jazz musician Buddy Rich and Canadian Playmate Dorothy Stratten.

"He is in the place he was always certain he wanted to spend eternity," Harris told People.

Thank you for all the birthday wishes. Photo by Elayne Lodge. #91

A post shared by Hugh Hefner (@hughhefner) on

Since news broke that the legendary ladies' man passed away, Harris has been mourning quietly. Not only did she delete her Instagram account, but she also set her Twitter account to private.

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

While it was previously believed that Harris wouldn't inherit a cent from Hefner due to their "ironclad" prenuptial agreement, it turns out the Playboy founder didn't leave his wife empty-handed. According to TMZ, Hefner left Harris US$5 million, along with the 5,900-square-foot house he bought for her back in 2013.

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