The veteran defender was at the head of the Barcelona procession which on Saturday morning paid homage to Vilanova at the Camp Nou, where club members and fans could bid farewell by writing in a book of condolences.
Puyol said: "Vilanova fought right up to the end, but these things happen. It is a very hard blow. Everyone in the dressing room is very upset. We have been with him in his fight against this illness for two-and-a-half years.
"He was an example to all of us. He never gave up and fought right up to the last day. It has been a very tough road and we have tried to help him in every way we could.
"It is a very tough moment for the whole of the footballing world, for the changing room and for those of us who knew Tito personally. It really is a very hard time. The only thing we can do now is send our full support to all his family and friends."
Barcelona have announced that Vilanova's funeral will take place on Monday at 7pm.