Mexican icon Vicente Fernández passed away on Sunday, December 12 at 81-years-old, and fans all over the world continue to feel devastated over the news.

Mexican-American comedian Gabriel Iglesias tweeted, “today we lost someone who was with us when we celebrated life and when we felt like life was over,” while President Biden shared, “the music world has lost an icon,” and actress Lucero wrote on Instagram, “[his passing] leaves a huge hole in my soul and in all Mexicans.” While celebrities from Ricky Martin to Pitbull to Ana Gabriel have all expressed their condolences for the Fernández family and their immense pain at the news, nothing is more powerful than seeing how the King of Ranchera’s fans continue to mourn the legendary singer’s passing.

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Fernández’s family coordinated a memorial service for the singer on Sunday, held at his very own Vicente Fernández Gómez (VFG) Arena in Jalisco just 12 hours after he passed away. Located near Fernández’s famed ranch Los Tres Potrillos, the memorial came after the singer’s wife Cuquita Abarca, children Alejandro, Vicente Jr., Alejandra and Gerardo, grandchildren and great-grandchildren could mourn his passing privately at home. Vicente Jr. explained, “we are calm and united waiting to be able to say goodbye… [then] the arena for the public.” 

Passing away after spending four months in the hospital following a fall at his ranch, and also suffering from the autoimmune disease Guillain-Barré syndrome, Fernández’s death still comes as a complete shock to family, friends, and fans alike.

“El Charro de Huentitán” was larger than life, un ícono Mexicano that felt invincible, always taking life by the horns as he sang poignant classics like “A Mi Manera,” “Por Tu Maldito Amor” and “Acá Entre Nos” — making his death even more heartbreaking. But just like Guadalajara-born Fernández always sang about seeing life’s joys “A Pesar de Todo,” fans attended the public memorial with a mix of deep sadness and smiles, singing his lyrics to the top of their lungs with tears in their eyes.

The memorial ran from Sunday evening to early Monday, welcoming thousands of people who made their way to the arena to say goodbye to Chente’s remains. The singer’s coffin was placed on the stage, surrounded by white flowers, la Virgen de Guadalupe to represent the Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, his favorite hat, and a video backdrop showcasing El Rey singing all his biggest hits.

As fans watched, sang, and cried from the arena seating, the singer’s loved ones made appearances on stage. Fernández three sons surrounded the coffin in a poignant move that made everyone break down in tears, while his wife Cuquita kissed the coffin and embraced it. There was tons of music to commemorate the singer, too: son Alejandro sang “Amor de los Dos” for his mother, symbolizing his parents’ beautiful 58-year marriage, while Mariachis Azteca and Nuevo Tecalitlán sang “El Rey,” “México Lindo y Querido,” and most powerfully, “Volver, Volver.” Even fellow ranchera singer Pepe Aguilar made an appearance with his family.

There was a live stream for fans who could not attend the Jalisco event, but who still wanted to pay their respects from their homes. Outside the arena, fans left flowers and gifts, mariachis sang and played their instruments, and lovers of Fernández’s music cried and held up posters of the singer. Fernández Jr. was deeply moved by the fans’ response, stating: “thanks to all the people of Mexico… thanks to all the people who have given us so many displays of affection.”

Fernández’s funeral is set to take place Monday afternoon after a mass. As per journalist Mara Patricia Castañeda, the singer will be buried in the central garden of the family’s ranch. In 2016, the “Los Mandados” singer famously said, “I prefer a quiet wake like any person who ceases to exist.” He continued, “I want them to remember me as a human being, that the only success I had is that they remember me with affection.”