The widow of police chief Michael Todd said her husband told her he was sorry, and loved her, hours before he was found dead.
Carolyn Todd, 47, spoke at the memorial service for her husband, former chief constable of Greater Manchester, at the city's cathedral.
She said Mr Todd sent her an e-mail saying: "I know that I love you sounds hollow but I do and I'm sorry."
Mr Todd was found dead on Snowdon, North Wales on 11 March.
Mrs Todd told the congregation: "Michael would have felt humble to see you all here today, thank you.
"I want to use this opportunity to thank everyone who sent many cards and letters of support, especially to all who wrote not knowing my address, sending them addressed to, Caroline Todd, Halam, or Mrs Todd, Nottinghamshire.
"I received them and I am very grateful."
The service was a "celebration" of Mr Todd's career, with tributes from Acting Chief Constable Dave Whatton and Ken Jones, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO).
It was beamed live to the police force training college at Sedgley Park in Prestwich and on the BBC Big Screen in Exchange Square.
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, former Met Commissioner Lord Stevens, his successor Sir Ian Blair and Shadow Home Secretary David Davies attended.
Michael Todd was buried near his family's home in Nottinghamshire
Mrs Todd was with her daughter Catherine, 16, twin sons, David and Matthew, 13, and the former police chief's brother Stephen.
The Right Rev Tony Porter, Bishop of Sherwood, said: "Michael's family loved him to bits but don't you worry - they knew he was no saint.
"The nearest he got to St Michael was when he bought his sandwiches from Marks and Spencer's.
"But they still loved him to bits, and loved him when he was in bits."
Mr Todd's daughter Catherine sang Somewhere, from West Side Story, at the memorial.
Mr Todd, who joined Essex Police in 1976, and also worked for the Met and Nottinghamshire Police, was described as a "copper's copper" and credited with transforming the Greater Manchester force.
The Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Rev Nigel McCulloch, said the police chief had been an exceptional leader, took policing to new heights and dedicated his life to protecting the public.
Dave Whatton, acting Chief Constable of GMP, said: "One of Michael's favourite sayings was, 'I'm not a politician, I'm just a simple policeman.
"He wasn't, he was nationally significant."
Representatives from the Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist religions lit candles at the end of the service, before the police band played the hymn Bread of Heaven, sung by the congregation.
The service also included representatives from every police force in the UK and every branch of the Greater Manchester Force.
The circumstances surrounding Mr Todd's death are to be investigated by Sir Paul Scott-Lee, chief constable of West Midlands Police.
Mr Todd was buried in a private ceremony at a churchyard near his family home in Halam, Nottinghamshire, on 21 March.
An inquest has been opened and adjourned.