May 16, 2011 — -- For a quarter of a century, Oprah Winfrey has made us smile, or shake our heads in astonishment, or scream in delight.
There were trips for the audience to Australia. Tom Cruise jumped for joy on the couch of the set. And who could forget that show when everyone in the audience got a car.
But on Wednesday, after 25 years of priceless moments, "The Oprah Winfrey" show will come to an end and legions of loyal viewers are in a state of sad disbelief.
"I've been watching Oprah for the last 25 years of my 50 years of life. And I'm going to miss her dearly," one fan said.
Dr. Ned Hallowell, a psychiatrist, said those feelings of sadness and loss are real.
People have been in love with her and with the show…They associate it with a time of stability, a real rock in their lives. It's a loss. People are going to have to grieve," he said.
The talk show queen has outlasted four presidents, played a critical role in the election of the nation's current president, and has been a daytime constant through the Sept. 11 terror attacks, two wars and a deep recession.
Marianne Douglas is among "Oprah" fans who have filled their DVRs with nothing but that show.
The Rhode Island woman told "Good Morning America" anchor Lara Spencer that she's not sure what she'll do with her afternoons without the show.
"She's one of us," Douglas said of Winfrey. "She's our ultimate girlfriend."
But when the show goes off the air, Douglas will be comforted by some of the favorite things she scored when she was among the heroes Winfrey honored last year during her annual "favorite things" episode.
Douglas had been invited to the special give-away show as a reward for the anti-bullying program she founded.
She said she wouldn't have had the strength to spearhead the program had it not been for Winfrey's influence.
"She's been a role model for not only me, but for millions around the world. She is a model of what we can be if we really want to be. She is a shining star of what we can be as humans," she said.
Tina Volpe says she's been similarly moved by Winfrey for the 20 years she's watched the show. She credits Winfrey for helping her find the strength to leave a job she hated and to embrace the inner passions she's laid out on her Oprah-inspired vision board.
"I just don't think that there is anyone out there like Oprah. There's other shows out there that are enjoyable, but there's nothing that really touches your spirit and reaches your heart and your mind and your soul the way that Oprah does," she said.
Volpe, of Omaha, Neb., says she can't bear the thought of watching Winfrey's final show alone, so she'll join hundreds of other Nebraska fans to watch the finale at a movie theater.
Similar viewing parties are being held throughout the nation, including at New York's Paley Center for Media -- a veritable shrine to the history of television.
"Oprah was unique and perhaps the last great broadcaster that is able to just bring the whole country together," the center's Ron Simon said. "The thing about Oprah is that even if you didn't watch the show , you were aware of what was going on on that show. It was part of the national conversation."
Oprah's legacy will carry on in her magazine and in her new television network which launched in January.
But "Oprah" loyalists say television just won't be the same without her holding court on the mainstream airwaves every afternoon.
"She's just the best woman to really look up to in modern day society as a hero," one female fan said.
One man said no one will be able to fill Winfrey's shoes. That fan admitted to Spencer that he had a crush on the talk show queen.
"I would love to marry her … Will you marry me, Oprah?" he said.
So what's an "Oprah" fan to do when the curtain falls for good on Wednesday?
Dr. Hallowell had some advice.
"With empty Oprah syndrome, you look elsewhere … you're glad she's on to whatever else she wants to do.
"And meanwhile, you remind yourself of what she's done for you: she's given you a gift for 25 years. And that gift won't disappear…and that's the way she'd want you to think of it."