'Days of Our Lives' Lays Victor Kiriakis to Rest 10 Months After Star John Aniston's Death

The longtime soap actor starred on the series for 37 years before his death at the age of 89 on Nov. 11



'Days of Our Lives' episode featuring John Aniston's character's funeral

Days of Our Lives has laid Victor Kiriakis to rest, ten months after John Aniston, the actor who portrayed him for nearly four decades, died.

On Thursday's episode of the soap, Victor's loved ones held a small, informal funeral service for him, setting up a large portrait of him outside the Kiriakis mausoleum.

Characters who attended included Chelsea (Rachel Melvin), Justin (Wally Kurth), Kate (Lauren Koslow), Alex (Robert Scott Wilson), Xander (Paul Telfer), Brady (Eric Martsolf), Maggie (Suzanne Rogers), Rex (Kyle Lowder), Philip (John-Paul Lavoisier), Sarah (Linsey Godfrey) and Theresa (Jen Lilley), among others.

"I will miss that meddling," Justin said tearfully, his voice breaking as he addressed the small crowd. "I will miss my dear Uncle Vic. Now and forever."

There were plenty more emotional moments, like Brady calling his grandfather their "bright shining sun," Alex talking to Victor's portrait in denial that he was really gone, and Maggie wondering just how she'll ever be able to say goodbye.

<p>Peacock</p> Victor's funeral on 'Days of Our Lives'


Victor's funeral on 'Days of Our Lives'

Related: How 'Days of Our Lives' Said Goodbye to John Aniston with Touching Final Appearance for Victor Kiriakis

Of course, it wouldn't be a Days episode without some serious drama. At the end of the episode, Louise Sorrel made a grand return as the villainous Vivian, who was briefly married to Victor for a time.

Lowder said on the Dishing With Digest podcast that when they filmed the memorial, it was "almost like we were at John's funeral."

"It was a very surreal moment shooting that," he said of the episode. "All of the reactions from the actors were real and genuine, including my own. It was a rough day. Because you know, he had two funerals — the real one for John Aniston and the on-air one."

"I think the day kind of went fairly what John's personality was," he added. "There was a mixture of, you know, stoicism and seriousness, but also humor mixed in."

<p>Peacock</p> 'Days of Our Lives' episode


'Days of Our Lives' episode

PEOPLE confirmed earlier this month that Lilley would be returning to the show for the sentimental send-off to Aniston’s character. Soap Opera News also reported that Zack Tinker, who played Victor’s nephew Sonny Kiriakis, would also return the same week as Lilley.

The Dec. 26 episode, which featured the legacy soap actor's final appearance as Victor Kiriakis, aired on Peacock more than a month after he died, alongside a touching tribute to his 37 years on the show.

The Christmas-themed episode for Aniston featured somewhat of a redemption arc for his tough crime boss character. It featured a clash between Victor and his nephew Sonny (Tinker), who attempted to bring his ex-husband home for the holidays. However, Victor wasn't keen on letting the ex-family member into his house.

<p>Moviestore Collection Ltd/Alamy</p> Lauren Koslow and John Aniston on 'Days of Our Lives'

Moviestore Collection Ltd/Alamy

Lauren Koslow and John Aniston on 'Days of Our Lives'

Later in the episode, Victor had a change of heart. "I changed my mind because I have a heart of gold," he said.

The episode also added a highlight reel of Aniston's best moments that recapped Victor's nearly four-decade trajectory.

Related: 'Days of Our Lives' and More Pay Tribute to John Aniston After His Death: 'Your Legend Will Live On'

Actress Jennifer Aniston broke the tragic news on Instagram that her father had passed away at the age of 89 on Nov. 11.

"Sweet papa…⁣ John Anthony Aniston," she wrote alongside a set of photos of the pair. "You were one of the most beautiful humans I ever knew. I am so grateful that you went soaring into the heavens in peace — and without pain. And on 11/11 no less! You always had perfect timing. That number will forever hold an even greater meaning for me now 🕊️I'll love you till the end of time💔⁣"

Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic Jennifer Aniston and John Aniston
Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic Jennifer Aniston and John Aniston

The official Days of Our Lives social media account also posted a sweet tribute video highlighting his long time contribution to the series.

"Our hearts are broken over the loss of our beloved family member John Aniston," the series said in a statement shared on Twitter and Instagram. "We love you John. Your legend will live on."

Series co-creator Ken Corday told PEOPLE in a statement at the time: "There is no question that all of us at Days will be mourning this great and profound loss. John was an icon, but even more so, he was a pillar of strength and unity for our Days of Our Lives community. He, along with our 'Victor Kiriakis,' will forever be in our hearts.”

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Days of Our Lives streams new episodes weekdays on Peacock.

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