Kathie Lee Gifford on how she knew she was open to romance after husband’s death

After losing a partner, a mourner can feel as though they’ll never love again after grief.

But according to Kathie Lee Gifford, whose husband of 25 years, Frank Gifford, died in 2015, there’s a secret to being open to romance once again.

“Don’t lock yourself away,” she said on TODAY Dec. 8.

The former TODAY co-host sat down for a candid conversation with three other women who know the pain and loneliness that accompany loss, including TODAY Style contributor Bobbie Thomas.

It’s been two years since Thomas lost her husband, Michael Marion, and she still struggles with the idea of starting another romance.

“How do you know you’re ready?” she asked Gifford.

Kathie Lee and Frank Gifford were married for 25 years. (TODAY)
Kathie Lee and Frank Gifford were married for 25 years. (TODAY)

“For me, it was being able to work out my grief and my sorrow creatively,” the 69-year-old explained. “I wrote the movie ‘Then Came You.’

Gifford recalled one scene in which her character, Annabelle, held her late husband’s ashes in a candy box and said, “I love you, Fred, and I always will, but I’ve got to make new memories or the old ones are going to kill me. And I’m not ready to die — not yet.’”

But making those new memories can only happen when the surviving spouse is open to it.

“I think that is something we can be proactive about,” Gifford continued. “You’ll know when you’re ready just to get out of the house and go with friends someplace. Don’t lock yourself away. Open yourself to the possibility of it.”

And be prepared for the possibility that it won't be a great experience at first.

“I went out on a couple of dates that were just disasters,” she said. “I hadn’t been on a date in 33 years.”

Gifford then stressed the importance of remembering "you're not replacing" the person you had by your side for so long when you find someone new.

After those initial less-than-perfect dates, Gifford finally met someone special, as she revealed during an August visit to TODAY.

“I have a very sweet man in my life,” she said at the time. “He’s good for me, and I’m good for him.”

She doesn't plan to say much more about the relationship than that, because, as she put it, "I’ve discovered that by not talking about it, it stays special.”

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This article was originally published on TODAY.com