In the wake of Joey Feek’s death, the country singer’s loved ones prepared to lay her to rest – but Joey’s spirit will continue to be felt.
The private funeral for Feek – who passed away at 40 on Friday after a long battle with terminal cancer – was held on the Pottsville, Tennessee, farm she shared with her husband, Rory, 50, and their daughter Indiana, 2, per Joey’s dying wish. Many of Joey’s memories at the home will live on in Joey+Rory’s personal music videos, including the country duo’s clip for “When I’m Gone” – their heartbreaking ballad about a dying wife comforting her husband. “[God] knew I would need her to tell me goodbye, not just once but a thousand times,” Rory wrote of the song in January.
Now, as Rory faces life without his soulmate by his side, the widower can draw on his bittersweet conversations with Joey for guidance.
“She talked to me about how she wants me to continue to tell our story, and other stories,” Rory – who has chronicled his journey with Joey on his blog This Life I Live – shared with PEOPLE in January. “This past spring I co-wrote and directed my first film, and she wants me to go on and continue writing and making more movies.”
He added: “And she’s also encouraged me to write a book. Joey and I have both experienced the power of living, and telling a great story, so I hope to be able to continue writing and being part of a great story.”
And Rory has already preserved sweet moments in home videos.
“Without realizing I was doing it, God has allowed me to capture hours and hours of Joey and her life at home on the farm, raising Indiana and playing music,” he told PEOPLE. “I can’t help but believe that those clips will be an important part of keeping Joey’s memory alive in Indy’s heart.”
Then there’s the couple’s new album Hymns That Are Important to Us, which debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s country and contemporary Christian charts and No. 4 on the top 200 chart – their biggest debut ever – days before Joey’s last breath.
“When the label called to give us the news I immediately took the phone in to Joey,” Rory wrote last month. “This recording was ‘hers’ from the beginning. This is one that she has always wanted to make, and she’s worked so hard to make it happen, in spite of the difficult circumstances she is facing. As I congratulated her, she responded through tears: ‘No, honey, this is God’s record.'”
Looking back on the making of their uplifting collection, Rory said one of his “favorite memories” was seeing Joey’s dedication to the project in the midst of receiving chemotherapy and radiation.
“She would sing into a microphone that we had set up in our room,” said Rory. “It wasn’t easy, but it was important to her. Those are moments I’ll never forget.”
Rory continued: “Both Joey and I only hope that these songs and these words can touch people and bring some joy and light to them in their times of need, the way that they have to us. Selfishly, I hope the whole world gets to discover what an amazing singer and woman my beautiful wife is, and that her music outlives not only the both of us but also our children’s children’s children.”
The Feeks have asked that, in lieu of flowers, donations be sent to Rory and Indy at PO Box 5471, Vancouver, WA 98668.