Whitney Houston's boyfriend Ray J says her smile will live in his heart "forever".

The rapper had an on-off relationship with the 'Million Dollar Bill' singer - who died aged 48 last weekend - but admits he has been struggling to "process" her passing.

He said in a statement released to Us Weekly Magazine: "Over the past few days I've tried to process the emptiness that I am experiencing. What my heart feels cannot be expressed in words.

"The world lost an icon, but I lost my close friend. Nippy, I miss you so much! You were so happy and full of love. Your smile will live in my heart forever."

When Ray first heard of Whitney's death at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Saturday (11.02.12), he is believed to have quickly rushed there to comfort her daughter with ex-husband Bobby Brown, Bobbi Kristina.

Whitney will be laid to rest at the New Hope Baptist Church - where she first began singing as a youngster - in Newark, New Jersey, in front of a star-studded crowd including Kevin Costner, Aretha Franklin and Clive Davis tomorrow (18.02.12).