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Kathie Lee Gifford on the friendship that helped her heal after Frank’s death

"They're my family now," Gifford writes in a new essay.

Kathie Lee Gifford endured heartbreak when her husband, sportscaster and football great Frank Gifford, died in 2015 at age 84.

The former TODAY fourth hour co-host, 68, was married to Gifford for nearly 30 years and they shared two children, son Cody, 31, and daughter Cassidy, 28. In the years after their father's death, both children moved across the country to California, leaving their mom alone in the family's Connecticut home.

Now, in an emotional essay written for People magazine's new "Kindness Issue," Kathie Lee Gifford credits a special friendship with helping her to heal after her husband's death.

Frank Gifford and Kathie Lee Gifford, seen here in 2012, were married for nearly 30 years.
Frank Gifford and Kathie Lee Gifford, seen here in 2012, were married for nearly 30 years. Bruce Glikas / Getty Images

The television legend grew close to married couple Angie Clawson and Greg McCollum three years ago when she relocated to Nashville for a fresh start. The pair, she explained in her essay, "loved me back to life."

"After Frank died and my children moved to California, my beautiful Connecticut home — once so full of laughter, music and dogs barking — started to feel more like a morgue," wrote Gifford. "That's when a line I included in my movie (2020's 'Then Came You') first sprang to mind: 'I've got to make new memories or the old ones are going to kill me.'"

After arriving in Nashville, Gifford was welcomed by Clawson and McCollum, "two people who epitomize grace and hospitality."

"The two of them understood what I needed as a new widow alone for the first time in decades," she explained. "They gave me a place to stay and even made sure I had a piano so I could tap into the culture of creativity I've found here.

"And Greg was in the building business, so he's my go-to-guy — I can't tell you how many times he's unclogged a drain or hung a TV or fixed whatever has gone wrong, which is everything all the time," she joked.

Gifford, who revealed in April during an appearance on TODAY that she was in a new relationship, concluded her essay by saying that Clawson and McCollum were now members of her "family."

"They're my family now," Gifford wrote. "They've adopted me, and they've continued to care for me. Jesus said to love your neighbor as yourself. Angie and Greg loved me back to life, and I will be eternally grateful."

Gifford's essay appears in the Nov. 8 issue of People.