Kristoff St. John 'Y&R' Bids Farewell ... in Emotional Episode

4/23/2019 11:30 AM PDT

'Y&R' Bids Kristoff St. John Farewell in Emotional Episode

It wasn't easy but Kristoff St. John's death was addressed head-on when "Young and the Restless" hit the airwaves Tuesday with an emotional episode.

The scene begins with 'Y&R' costar Bryton James -- who plays Kristoff's TV son, Devon Hamilton -- walking into his father's house looking for him. James calls out for Kristoff, who for nearly 3 decades played Neil Winters. James says, "C'mon wake up. It's not a party until Neil Winters shows up."

Check out the clip ... it's a heart-wrenching moment when James walks downstairs, inconsolable after realizing his father is gone. As we first reported ... Kristoff was found dead back in February. It was later revealed he died from heart disease.

Tuesday's episode was the beginning of a 4-episode story arc paying tribute to Kristoff. Many of his former costars returned to the show and paid their respects ... including Shemar Moore, who played Kristoff's TV brother, Malcolm.

The network will also honor Kristoff next week with a special tribute episode ... showing clips from the show along with current and former cast members sharing their best memories of him.