Dec. 26 (UPI) -- George Michael's family paid tribute to the singer on the one-year anniversary of his death.
"This year has been a series of new and tough challenges for those of us close and loyal to Yog, not least of which was steeling ourselves this month, to hear 'Last Christmas' and 'December Song' streaming out of shops, cars and radios, as it has done for decades, knowing he's no longer here with us, missing him," the family said in a statement, referring to Michael as Yog, a nickname based on the pronunciation of his full name, Georgios Kyiacos Panayiotou.
"This Christmas will be hard without him, but we know that we are not alone in our mourning the anniversary of his loss, and that the sadness of our wider family, and true friends, is shared by many of you," said the statement, posted to Michael's official website.
"Yog, who loved Christmas, and always hoped it would snow ... would want each of you that admired and loved him, (yes -- he knows you did!!) to take a moment, raise a glass, enjoy his music and think of him fondly, making sure to enjoy your time with and appreciate your family and friends."
The family also asked fans in Michael's memory to "take a moment and a deep breath and say those 'I love you's' out loud."
Michael died Christmas Day, 2016 at age 53 of natural causes due to heart disease and a fatty liver.
Michael, one of Britain's most popular, controversial and successful pop rockers, was known as a member of Wham!, which produced hit songs such as "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go," "Careless Whisper," and "Everything She Wants." He embarked on a solo career in 1986 and released his debut album Faith, which included four No. 1 singles including "Faith," "Father Figure," "One More Try" and "Monkey." Michael also released other platinum selling albums such as Listen Without Prejudice and Older.
A documentary filmed mostly before his death titled George Michael: Freedom aired on Showtime in October. The feature covered the span of Michael's career and featured interviews with celebrities such as Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Ricky Gervais, Nile Rogers, Mark Ronson, Tracey Emin, Liam Gallagher, Mary J. Blige, Jean Paul Gaultier, James Corden and Tony Bennett.