The Young and the Restless Honors Neil Winters and Kristoff St. John in a Stunning Sendoff

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Soap operas aren't fond of death. 

Beloved characters who die often come back to life even if the actors playing them no longer want to be a part of the show. Recasts are abundant.

But when tragedy strikes as it did when Kristoff St. John passed away on February 2, 2019, The Young and the Restless chose to honor the man by similarly retiring his character. 

Devon and Lily Say Goodbye - The Young and the Restless

The story of Neil Winter's passing by a sudden stroke was the focus of much of this week on The Young and the Restless.

Neil was a cherished member of the Genoa City community, and his death rocked everyone on the show.

Related: Kristoff St. John Dead: The Young and the Restless Star Dies at 52

Given the real tragedy behind Neil's passing offered the show and its viewers an opportunity to come together and mourn a public loss.

Because death is so rarely permanent on soaps, sometimes the real-world rituals surrounding death get overlooked or tainted by breezy storylines for dramatic purposes.

Jack Says Goodbye - The Young and the Restless

With Kristoff's passing ending his illustrious career on The Young and the Restless, the show and its stars had the opportunity to get it right.

Characters grieved the loss of their friend, father, brother, and mentor while the actors who portrayed them poured out their hearts about the man they'd grown to love during decades of backstage camaraderie, on-screen drama, and life-long friendships.

Related: The Young and the Restless: Shemar Moore Among Actors Returning for Kristoff St. John Tribute

Neil's children grieved their father, and it wasn't lost on me that the funeral wreath most prominent in the scenes featured the "Beloved Father" sash.

As world's collide, Neil Winters was just as great of a father as Kristoff was in life, and it was Kristoff's deep devotion to his children that led him to a dark place after the suicide of his son.

Devon Says Goodbye - The Young and the Restless

Bryton James (Devon) and Christel Khalil (Lily) tore through their scenes honoring their friend who played their father since they were quite young themselves, and Christel's crying was as genuine as it comes.

Related: The Young and the Restless Kristoff St. John Tribute Details Set

Shemar Moore (Malcolm) returned to pay homage to his real-life friend and on-screen brother in another heartfelt scene on what was an hour full of gut-wrenching performances.

Lily Says Goodbye - The Young and the Restless

Shemar posted on his Instagram page before today's airing what to expect and how he felt about the episode by saying, "Tomorrow morning on @youngandrestlesscbs you will see and hopefully feel MY HEART ❤️ on the screen....

MALCOM talking to NEIL ..... SHEMAR talking to KRISTOFF....... they are one in the same... BROTHERS both on and off the screen ..... To pay tribute to KRISTOFF with these next few episodes of Y&R was an incredible honor....

Related: Shemar Moore Mourns Kristoff St. John: "I Lost My Brother Yesterday"

I truly hope you tune and see and feel just how much he was loved by us ALL.... the emotions you will see and feel.... are ALL real.... from ALL of our Y&R FAMILY ❤️🙏🏼 #neverforgotten #youngandtherestless #kristoffstjohn"

Also very prominent during the hour were those characters who looked to Neil as a sturdy shoulder to help them combat alcoholism.

Jack (Peter Bergman) stared meaningfully at one of his AA chips, and both he and Nikki (Melody Thomas Scott) remembered the number of times Neil saved them from themselves and their addiction.

Nikki Says Goodbye - The Young and the Restless

The family will continue to morn and honor Neil through Friday, and on Monday, April 29 The Young and the Restless will offer a retrospective about Kristoff and his contribution to the show that will feature more returns to the canvas they once shared with their lost friend.

Related: Get CBS All Access via Prime Video Channels for Hit Shows, Exclusive Originals & Live TV!

Victoria Rowell returned for a Winters' family cast members' conversation that will occur in Devon's fictional living room, and other stars and friends will share their recollections about Kristoff, as well.

Did you watch today?

Share your thoughts about the lovely memorial to Neil Winters and Kristoff St. John below.

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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