Celine Dion has thanked her friends, family and fans across the world for their outpouring of love following the death of her beloved husband René Angélil. "The support we have received has been such a blessing," the star told People as she attended René's wake at the chapel of rest at the Notre-Dame Basilica in Montreal on Thursday.
That support was certainly evident at the open-casket service. Hundreds of mourners flocked to the basilica, braving hours in the cold to pay their last respects to the 73-year-old music manager, and offer their condolences to his grieving widow and children.
Celine Dion has thanked fans for their support following her husband's death
"Celine is Quebec. She is an ambassador for Quebec. And this was her great love and we had to be there for her," Judith Picard told People of her decision to wait three hours to meet the singer.
"They're inseparable – they're like one people, and now she has lost half of herself. So I feel for her. And he was such a great man, and he was such a great soul. We had to celebrate his life coming here today."
Hundreds of mourners flocked to the Notre-Dame Basilica to pay their last respects
She added: "You could tell our love was helping her – she was taking it in."
Another well-wisher, Mary Belisle, also waited to offer her sympathies to the 47-year-old star. "I did tell Celine, 'Thank you for being here' because she's receiving everyone, one person at a time, and she's taking more of her time.
Celine was supported at the wake by her family, including eldest son René Charles
"That's why we kind of froze for hours before getting inside: it was worth it because it wasn't like in and out, in and out – she actually took the time; she shook our hand, and some actually kissed her," she said. "It was very personal words, even the eye contact. She was very sincere."
René's funeral will take place at 3pm on Friday in the Notre-Dame Basilica – where he and Celine were married in 1994.