Hundreds gathered at St. Ann’s Church in Dorchester, Massachusetts, to pay their respects and say their final goodbyes to Jimmy Hayes.
On Monday morning, a week after the 31-year-old former NHL player’s death, his funeral took place at St. Ann’s Church along with a procession of youth athletes who dressed in Dorchester Youth Hockey jerseys and lined the local streets to honor their hometown hero.
In attendance were Hayes’ widow, Kristen, and their respective parents as well as family members and friends. Jimmy and Kristen’s two young sons, Beau, 2, and 3-month-old Mac, were not at the funeral.
Prior to the nearly 90 minute-long memorial service, Hayes’ casket entered the church as a bagpiper played on the steps. The processional hymn was “Amazing Grace” while the recessional hymns were “How Great Thou Art” and “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
Among the many emotional moments during the funeral were the tearful speeches.
Before she walked up to the podium to speak, Kristen was seen gently placing her hand on her late husband’s wooden casket, which was draped with a white funeral pall. “My dearest Jimmy, I cannot believe I am standing here a month after our three-year wedding anniversary. You were simply the best. There’s no other way to put it,” the mother of two said.
“The boys and I were your whole world. Every morning you would wake me up with ‘Hi big momma’ or ‘Big momma looking hot.’ You said you felt bad that the boys will have the hot mom in the pickup line at school,” she said, in a lighter moment from her speech.
Jimmy Hayes/instagram Jimmy Hayes, wife Kristen and their son
Speaking about how much her beloved enjoyed being a father to their two sons, Kristen also described Jimmy’s “heart of gold” and “infectious” smile as well as how “it was so fun becoming a parent with you.”
“I will try my best to fill your shoes, but I know it’s nearly impossible,” she said, adding that, as of late, it is “the little things I will miss most, like the sound of your voice … and the high-five at 8 p.m. after the kids were in bed.”
Rocky W. Widner/NHL/Getty Jimmy Hayes
Throughout her speech, Kristen looked back at moments from their time as a family of four. “Your hugs and kisses were one of a kind. Your dance moves? Let’s hope they don’t get those,” she joked.
Hayes was pronounced dead by first responders at his Milton home on Aug. 23. The evening prior to his death, Hayes celebrated their son Beau’s second birthday with Kristen and their infant son Mac, who was born on May 5.
A spokesperson for the medical examiner’s office in Massachusetts confirmed to PEOPLE that an autopsy was completed on Aug. 25. “The cause and manner of death remain pending and an update is not expected for several weeks when toxicology testing comes back,” the office said in a statement.
“Beau looks at the background of my phone [with a picture of Jimmy] before he goes to bed and says, ‘Goodnight daddy. I love you,’ ” Kristen said in her emotional speech. “You were my soulmate and the best dad to Beau and Mac. I will make sure they know our love story.”
Kristen added, “Heaven has gained an angel.”
Lindsay Connors Photography Kristen Hayes, Jimmy Hayes and their kids Mac and Beau
Another heartbreaking speech at the funeral was Hayes’ younger brother Kevin Hayes, who plays for the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers.
“He made me the best version of myself,” said Kevin, who fought back tears while addressing those in attendance.
“My brother treated everyone the same way,” he shared while detailing that the family has received flowers from everyone from the local sushi restaurant to the Dunkin’ Donuts down the street and from high school teachers.
Describing Jimmy as a “caring, loving, generous, loyal and determined” loved one, Kevin continued, “As a brother, he built us up every way he could. He brought joy and laughter into every interaction.”
Speaking briefly with PEOPLE, U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh said St. Ann’s church was “full of love today,” adding that “everyone knows Jimmy. It was always Jimmy and Kevin. The two of them did great things. They were always giving back to the community.”
Walsh, the former mayor of Boston who is from Dorchester, also shared, “It was a wonderful tribute to Jimmy.”