Kathie Lee Gifford honored her late husband, Frank Gifford, with a thoughtful tribute on the one-year anniversary of his death on Tuesday, August 9.
The Today co-host penned a blog post on the show’s website about enduring the heartbreaking loss of her husband of 29 years. “I’ve gotten through this past year the way I’ve gotten through every day of my life: faithfully trusting God to do what God does, which is to show up, redeem and restore,” Gifford wrote. “If you thought about it as ‘How am I ever going to get through this year?’ — well, God doesn’t promise you a year. He promises you a day at a time. He broke life into 24-hour-periods because that’s all we can handle. The next day, you reach for your fresh cup of mercy that you need every bit as much as the day before.”
She went on to remember the final moments of his life. “When I found Frank on that beautiful Sunday morning, he was already gone. The look on his face was complete and total wonder. I felt in that moment he saw Jesus, and Jesus took his breath away. That’s the way I want to go,” Gifford wrote. “He passed away still beautiful and one week shy of 85. He went ready to go to church that day. And you know what, he sure did go to church that day!”
Gifford went on to share a few words of encouragement with those struggling similarly. “For other people grieving the loss of a loved one, I would tell them it’s impossible to do it on your own,” she shared. “You need to immerse yourself in the word of God. What I would do is get up in the morning and spend time in prayer. Start really learning as much Scripture as possible so you can quote it without looking it up, so it’s in your DNA. You can call on it when you’re feeling challenged in your faith … Don’t rush the process. Joy can exist in the exact same spot as your grief.”
She told readers and viewers to focus not on the past, but rather, the present. “We had Frank for a lot of years and we had him in great health and we have many, many memories. If you keep thinking about what you lost, you will fall in despair,” she noted. “Concentrate on what you still have and the memories and the knowledge that you will all be united one day. I am not saying it’s easy. I am saying it’s possible.”
Frank passed away of natural causes in his home in Greenwich, Connecticut, on August 9, 2015. Upon her return to the Today show, his grieving wife gave an incredibly moving speech about his life — and his legacy. At the time, Gifford shared Frank’s life story — long before he was immortalized as an NFL legend, Gifford was born into poverty during the Great Depression — and hence, his attitude of gratitude.
“He ate dog food sometimes as a child and he was so grateful to have it. He lived 29 different places before he was even at Bakersfield High School because his father couldn’t get work during the depression,” Gifford shared last year. “And that shaped the man that Frank became. He knew what it was like to be hungry. He knew what it was like to have no clothes on his back. Even when he went to USC to play there, he had one pair of jeans and a white shirt.”
Despite the bleak circumstances, Frank’s family found solace in their faith. “That kept them together as a family through the darkest darkest times,” said the talk show host. “His world got smaller as his God got bigger … He died in complete peace. He knew every sin he’d ever committed was forgiven. He had the hope that he would be with the Lord.”
Read her full tribute here and re-watch the moment above.